Councilmembers’ Statement In Response to Allegations Against Mayor

SEATTLECouncil President Bruce Harrell and Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw, Lisa Herbold and Debora Juarez issued the following statement in response to allegations of abuse in the Seattle Times against Mayor Ed Murray:

“Allegations of abuse must be taken seriously at all times. Despite serious allegations that Mayor Ed Murray committed acts of misconduct, there have been no judicial findings or conclusions that he committed an offense or willfully violated any laws. The Mayor is entitled to due process and legal counsel.

“Although the City Council may act as a court of impeachment, our powers to do so are limited by our City Charter. Article V, Section 10 of the City Charter regarding ‘Removal of Mayor’ states: ‘The Mayor may be removed from office after a hearing, for any willful violation of duty, or for the commission of an offense involving moral turpitude, upon written notice from the City Council at least five days before the hearing. He or she shall have the right to be present, to the aid of counsel, to offer evidence and to be heard in his or her own behalf. Upon the affirmative vote of two-thirds of all the members of the City Council, acting as a court of impeachment, the office shall become vacant.’

“As we speak today, there has been no proof that he has “willfully violated” his duties. The Mayor has directed staff in the necessary transitions this fall to a new mayoral administration and these are necessary steps for a successful transition.

“Today, we have received calls and emails from survivors of sexual assault who are reliving their own experiences. Many are coming forward to add their voice to the discussion. We are listening to their voices; each of us knows survivors and we underscore our concerns for each person. The Council will continue to support survivors, advocates, and those agencies that provide critical support to survivors and their families.

“Allowing due process to proceed before the courts or other competent tribunal does not lessen our compassion and understanding of victims who have been assaulted. These crimes are unspeakable and require the utmost attention from our legal and social service system no matter how long ago they might have occurred. Collectively, we appeal to the Mayor to stop referring to the criminal background of his accusers. This re-traumatizes survivors and hinders the City’s efforts to enact policy to assist people who have criminal backgrounds.

“Our primary focus will be to assure that the City’s best interests are being served and we have an effective transition in mayoral administrations.”

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Councilmember Bagshaw’s Statement on Homeless Service Funding Plan, Council to Review Plan at 2 p.m. Meeting

Councilmember Sally Bagshaw (District 7, Pioneer Square to Magnolia), Chair of the Council’s Human Services and Public Health Committee, issued the following statement after Mayor Murray announced the “Pathways Home” plan to put $30 million in homeless services contracts out for bid:

“This RFP offers a critical step toward transforming Seattle’s homelessness services system. Putting our public investments out to bid will help measure success for those investments, something we have failed to do properly for years.

“Expanding housing options for people experiencing homelessness must be our highest priority.   93% of people living unsheltered have said they would accept affordable housing if it is available, which is the most important action we can take to address homelessness. I support this approach.

“When I began chairing the Human Services and Public Health Committee in 2015, we had no comprehensive strategy to address the crisis of homelessness in Seattle.  Since then, the City has created Pathways Home to make systemic changes to our system, opened six managed encampments, completed a needs assessment of unsheltered people, and sited a Navigation Center. Releasing the request for proposal today is fundamental to the implementation of Pathways Home which will help more people find housing.

“I’m grateful to Director Catherine Lester of the Human Services Department and our community partners for their hard work. We’ll be digging into the details of this plan later today at my 2 p.m. Human Services and Public Health Committee. More to come.”

Councilmember Bagshaw’s Statement on 2017 “Count Us In” Tally on Homelessness

Councilmember Sally Bagshaw (District 7, Pioneer Square to Magnolia) issued the following statement following the release of the 2017 “Count Us In” comprehensive tally of people who were sheltered and unsheltered in Seattle and King County.  The new, more comprehensive count for Seattle found 4,619 people living in either emergency shelter or transitional housing, and 3,857 people living unsheltered  (living on the street, in abandoned buildings, vans/cars/RVs, or tents):

“While our community did not need methodologically sound numbers to tell us we have a growing homelessness problem, we now have a precise understanding of the scope of our crisis.  Our Pathways Home plan is a good beginning.  We need to focus on implementing this plan with our regional partners, faster.

“We’ve had successes and we’ve stabilized thousands of households through expanded 24-7 shelter and rapid rehousing, but the number of people who are becoming homeless outpaces our resources. The number increases faster than we can build housing.

“This year we will invest in more low income housing and we will competitively bid over $30 million in homelessness services. But Seattle can’t do this alone, and the ‘brick and mortar’ options which are preferred by most are both slow to complete and expensive.

“We must better coordinate the good work occurring throughout the region, including King, Pierce, Kitsap and Snohomish Counties, and join with philanthropic foundations, businesses and non-profits to create many different options in each county.  We know that stagnant wages, lack of affordable housing, addiction, and inadequate behavioral health treatment alternatives are the underlying causes that perpetuate homelessness.  Stable housing, job training, and mental health and drug treatment options must be made available and coordinated across all four counties.”

Council Approves Funds for Firearm Surrender from Perpetrators of Domestic Violence

Council unanimously approved legislation today dedicating funds to enforce the 2014 state law that enabled courts to require domestic violence abusers to surrender their firearms. The funding was sought because, in spite of the state law, enforcement of surrender orders has been weak. In 2016, 56% of orders in Seattle were completely ignored, while, for the 36% of respondents who filed paperwork claiming that they did not possess a firearm, there is no verification that those declarations are accurate.

In November 2016, Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw and Tim Burgess identified this gap in the system and championed a budget proposal that created the firearm surrender program, established protocols to be successful, and identified gaps in the system between arrest, conviction, and gun surrender. These additional funds will create the robust firearm surrender program that Seattle needs to protect domestic violence survivors and the public.

“These newly created positions will help finally bring victims some peace of mind,” said Councilmember Tim Burgess (Position 8, Citywide), Chair of the Council’s Finance Committee. “Our laws only have power to the extent that we actually enforce them. If an abuser can ignore gun surrender orders or file a form falsely claiming that he or she does not have a gun without consequence, then we haven’t done much to improve safety.”

Approximately 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men experience severe physical abuse by an intimate partner during their lifetime, according to a CDC study. Further, when a firearm is present, violence in the home is five times more likely to end in a homicide.

We know that over the last 7 years 54% of mass shootings cases involved domestic or family violence. A fully funded firearm surrender program is critical to ensure the safety of both domestic violence survivors and the public at large; it is the most important thing we can do today to save lives,” said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw (District 7, Pioneer Square to Magnolia).

The funds will be used for a dedicated Court Coordinator who will review domestic violence protection orders and crosscheck firearm and criminal history databases. The Coordinator and co-workers will also interview victims and families to determine if perpetrators retained firearms. That information will be shared with the courts and the police. Further, a new prosecutor position will be hired and dedicated to high-risk cases. The prosecutor will work with the Court Coordinator to facilitate the surrender of firearms and file criminal charges against non-compliant parties.

Councilmember Bagshaw added, “On the first day utilizing the newly established surrender protocols in March, the Seattle Police Department and King County Sheriff’s Office recovered eleven guns from the homes of people who were not legally allowed to own a firearm and had denied ownership. I expect we’ll only get more effective in our pursuit of domestic violence perpetrators moving forward.”

Additionally, these positions will also help implement statewide Initiative 1491, which allows families to petition to remove firearms from individuals who may be a danger to themselves or others.

The legislation will take effect 30 days after Mayor Murray signs it. These positions were created because the statewide legislation neglected to include funding to implement the program’s requirements. The funds were approved as part of the City’s first quarter supplemental budget.

Councilmember Bagshaw’s Statement on $30M Investment from Allen Foundation

Councilmember Sally Bagshaw (District 7, Pioneer Square to Magnolia) issued the following statement after the Paul G. Allen Foundation announced a $30 million investment and partnership with Mercy Housing to help house homeless families in Seattle:

“I’m truly thankful to Paul Allen and his foundation for reinvesting $30 million in our community. When $5 million in City dollars is leveraged by such a large donation from philanthropic leaders, we will see big changes.  More families will be housed, more children stabilized and more people given a second chance.

“Mercy Housing, led by their stalwart leader, Bill Rumpf is a wonderful partner.  We’ve worked closely with Bill on past projects, and through Mercy’s dedication, compassion, and diligence families and children will be offered help they need.

“Paul G. Allen Foundation now joins regional leaders including Starbucks, Amazon, the Raikes Foundation and others who are investing in innovative solutions to homelessness. With these dollars, we can put our arms around our neighbors who need our support.

“This is a truly wonderful day.”