Week In Review: April 29, 2022
Release Date: 04/29/2022
Hacks & Wonks
On today’s week-in-review, Crystal is joined by Executive Director of The Urbanist, Doug Trumm. They start by looking at research that shows Seattle is continuing to grow faster than the suburbs around it. Next, they discuss the future of a Tukwila ballot initiative to raise the city’s minimum wage. In policing news, Crystal and Doug examine the troubling future of funding for non-police public safety and crime prevention programs in Seattle, and how despite the documented success of those programs, the city seems to dismiss their impact. After that, Doug explains what the city’s...info_outline Pastor Carey Anderson, Candidate for 30th LD State Representative
Hacks & Wonks
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 . Find the host, Crystal, on Twitter at and find more information about Pastor Carey at Resources Campaign Website - Pastor Carey Anderson: Transcript [00:00:00]...info_outline Week In Review: June 24, 2022
Hacks & Wonks
On today’s Hacks & Wonks week-in-review, Crystal is joined by Co-Founder and Editor of PubliCola, Erica Barnett. They start off breaking down the Supreme Court’s official opinion on Dobbs, which overturns Roe v. Wade. They discuss how we got here, the immediate repercussions on Washington and the country, and what we can do about it. Next, they look at the motivations behind Seattle Pride’s decision to ask for no uniformed police to participate in this year’s festivities. In housing news, they question Mayor Harrell’s decision to veto a bill from the City Council asking landlords...info_outline Tyler Crone, Candidate for 36th LD State Representative
Hacks & Wonks
On this midweek show, Crystal chats with Tyler Crone about her campaign for State Representative in the 36th Legislative District - why she decided to run, how the last legislative session went and her thoughts on addressing issues such as COVID response and recovery, public safety, drug decriminalization, housing affordability and zoning, homelessness and climate change. As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at . Find the host, Crystal, on Twitter at and find Tyler at . Resources Campaign Website - Tyler Crone: Transcript [00:00:00] Crystal...info_outline Week In Review: June 17, 2022
Hacks & Wonks
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...info_outline Leesa Manion, Candidate for King County Prosecuting Attorney
Hacks & Wonks
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...info_outline Week In Review: June 10, 2022
Hacks & Wonks
On today’s Week in Review, Crystal is joined by Seattle Times political reporter Jim Brunner. For police news, they first cover an update in the on-going saga of Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer’s harassment of a Black newspaper carrier, then they break down the newest revelations in the controversy surrounding the missing text messages between former mayor Jenny Durkan and former Police Chief Carmen Best. In elections news, Crystal and Jim discuss activist Glen Morgan’s volunteer group that’s going door to door looking for illegal voters, and look at the motivations behind a Sequim...info_outline Emily Alvarado, Candidate for 34th LD State Representative
Hacks & Wonks
On this midweek show, Crystal chats with Emily Alvarado about her campaign for State Representative in the 34th Legislative District - why she decided to run, how the last legislative session went, and her thoughts on how to address housing affordability and zoning, Washington’s regressive tax structure, homelessness, climate change, public safety, drug decriminalization, COVID response and recovery. As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at . Find the host, Crystal, on Twitter at and find Emily at . Resources Campaign Website - Emily Alvarado: ...info_outline Week In Review: June 3, 2022
Hacks & Wonks
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...info_outline Leah Griffin, Candidate for 34th LD State Representative
Hacks & Wonks
On this midweek show, Crystal chats with Leah Griffin about her campaign for State Representative in the 34th Legislative District - why she decided to run, how the last legislative session went, her priorities, and her thoughts on addressing issues such as housing affordability and zoning, homelessness, drug decriminalization, public safety, climate change, and COVID response and recovery. As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at . Find the host, Crystal, on Twitter at and find Leah at . Resources Campaign Website - Leah Griffin: Transcript...info_outline
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 off with news that covid cases are on the rise in Washington and an estimated 75% of children have been infected, and Mike shares his personal experience traveling post-mask mandate. Then, Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison's plan to eliminate community court as an option for repeat offenders sparks a conversation on fear of crime and how that intersects with crime statistics and politicians’ response. They also discuss another sobering statistic: violent crime is 61% higher today than it was during the McGinn administration. The hosts recount the work that his office undertook to reduce crime, with McGinn offering advice to Mayor Harrell on the types of evidence-based interventions that will keep people from being victimized and make our streets safer.
As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at officialhacksandwonks.com.
America Walks: https://americawalks.org
Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative: http://www.ncdsv.org/images/UNITY_CityVoices_SeattleYouthViolencePreventionInitiative_6-2011.pdf
READI Chicago: https://www.heartlandalliance.
“COVID still the leading cause of work-related deaths in WA” by Amanda Zhou from The Seattle Times: https://www.seattletimes.com/
“King County’s COVID-19 Situation Hits a “Yellow Light”” by Hannah Krieg from The Stranger: https://www.thestranger.com/
“CDC estimates 3 in 4 kids have had coronavirus infections” by Mike Stobbe from The Associated Press:
“Slog PM: 75% of Kids Caught COVID, The City Suddenly Cares About Rape Apologia, Seattle Is Scary but We Are Scarier” https://www.thestranger.com/
“Seattle city attorney pushes to prosecute repeat offenders” by Hannah Krieg from The Stranger: https://www.seattletimes.com/
“City Attorney Davison Asks Court to Let Her Deny “High Utilizers” Access to Community Court” by Erica C. Barnett from PubliCola: https://publicola.com/2022/04/
“Police misconduct is costing WA taxpayers millions. The trend shows no sign of slowing down” by Mike Carter from The Seattle Times: https://www.seattletimes.com/
“2021 crime survey: Capitol Hill and Central District trust in SPD continues plunge as Seattle crime fears… drop?” by Jseattle from Capitol Hill Seattle Blog: https://www.
“Former Mayor McGinn: ‘Police alone are never going to be enough’ to curb Seattle’s crime problem” by MyNorthwest Staff from MyNorthwest: https://mynorthwest.com/
[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. If you like the show, please leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts. 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 and today's co-host: activist, community leader, former mayor of Seattle and Executive Director of America Walks, the popular Mike McGinn.
[00:00:59] Mike McGinn: Well, I think the popular was always in debate, but thanks for calling out the America Walks gig. I consider myself a very fortunate person because our mission is to support people around the country, working for more walkable and equitable and inclusive communities. So I think I got the best post-mayor gig that I've seen yet of Seattle natives. We can do a whole show on that one day.
[00:01:24] Crystal Fincher: And you've been doing excellent things - America Walks has been all over the place, certainly here in Washington state - has been active in advocacy so much appreciate it.
[00:01:36] Mike McGinn: Where are you going to take us today, Crystal?
[00:01:38] Crystal Fincher: Well, I figured we'd start off by talking about the pandemic that we remain in - that hasn't gone away, that people are still living with and dealing with, and that lots of people have contracted yet again - even though lots of those aren't reported because people are testing at home and not following up with a PCR test, so those numbers don't land in the official numbers. But King County's COVID-19 situation has hit a yellow light - is the term - cases are back on the upswing all over the country and world really, and accelerated after the ending of COVID protections. But King County Public Health had a press conference talking about, Hey, we gotta be cautious here - cases are on the rise. We need to be careful, it's not over.
[00:02:35] Mike McGinn: There's so many issues here to try to unpack with how we've responded to the pandemic and what we're doing now - it's clearly not over. Although, as we were talking about before the show, a majority of Americans have now gotten COVID - three quarters of kids have gotten it. We don't really know what the long-term effects are, but we also know that we've got better treatments - the number of deaths is not as high as it's been, but it is still a lot of people dying of it every day if you track it - it's still pretty serious.
I recently went to a conference and that was pretty interesting in itself. And I've been very cautious, very COVID-wary - but being on a plane, which turns out because of their filtration is safer than was initially thought. But being in a room of people, even with everyone wearing masks, definitely felt weird after two years. And interestingly enough, when I was heading back - it was the day that, it was the first day of flying without masks. And when we sat down, the flight attendants said, you are not required to mask. And it was interesting to me 'cause there were a couple of people on the plane who were like, yeah, you know, really gave their positive response - 'cause clearly protecting the health of others was oppressive to them, but it was a very muted response. And I remember as I approached the airport, I was like, well, what am I going to do? And I put my mask on when I entered the airport - it just felt like a prudent thing to do. So to me - they've also shown that a majority - I recently saw a poll and the majority of Americans still support masking up in public places. So we're kind of left in this halfway space where people are - where conscientious people are taking steps and - but there's also, and I'm going to put myself in this category too - I went to the conference because it felt like it was time to start doing things again. So it's a very interesting space that a lot of people are in right now. I'm not comfortable in a restaurant yet, by the way. I still would rather eat outside - glad that summer's coming.
[00:05:01] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, yeah. Glad that's coming, glad those options are available. So much of the conversation leading up, throughout the pandemic, has been on fatality numbers. And to me, we should be talking so much more about long COVID, about some of the impacts and effects of COVID that may not be part of the initial infection - but there is evidence that it impacts your - can impact your heart, can impact your liver, can impact a number of systems in the body, can cause an inflammation. And it's a new virus - we still don't know exactly what this is and exactly what it does. And I'm not in the mood to play with something that I don't know. It's not like I'm doing nothing - I certainly have been going some places, usually masked if I'm going to be indoors with people I don't know in public places.
But as Jeffrey Dr. Duchin said - King County's Public Health doctor - the fewer precautions we take, the more COVID is gonna spread. We still have to be focused on stopping the spread. And there has been news about therapeutic treatments for COVID - the challenge is that those are not yet universally available, and there are a number of restrictions and barriers for a variety of people getting them. For people with power and access, and great relationships with their doctors, and who have a traditionally easy time dealing within the healthcare system - that can be a comforting thing, but to a lot of other people, when they hear that, yes, Paxlovid or other ones, other medications that are available, but having requirements put in front of them or needing to be - there are lots of stories about people wanting access to it and not being able to get it. Navigating the healthcare system is a lot more challenging for some people than it is for others, especially women, people of color - who data shows repeatedly are doubted or not taken as seriously - certainly people with chronic health conditions that sometimes aren't easily diagnosed and having to go through all of that.
So I just hope that everyone listening understands that we are still relying on each other to prevent the spread of COVID. And even though it may not kill as many people as it once was, it still is killing people - but beyond that, it can dramatically impact people's lives with debilitating conditions causing disability, people getting reinfected with COVID and successive infections being worse. So we just have to continue to be careful. So I just wanted to talk about that and make sure that at least we remain aware that this is a thing and hopefully take precautions for people.
Moving on to other issues this week - lots in the realm of public safety and the fear of crime. And I guess we can start out looking at more news from the Seattle City Attorney this week - last week, we jokingly talked about "abolitionist Ann Davison" borrowing from Nicole Thomas-Kennedy's plans and playbook because we can't afford to lock everyone up and prosecute our way out of crime. Even if it worked - but that actually doesn't work - jailing people does not make our streets more safe. They get out and they commit more crime because we have done nothing to treat the root causes. But this week, Ann Davison requested that she be able to remove the option of diversion, which usually comes with more systematic supports, hopefully trying to do more to address some of the root causes that have landed people within the criminal legal system. And she wants to say, no - for certain habitual offenders, we don't want that to be an option. We just want to be able to charge 'em and to deal with it in regular court. What is your take on this?
[00:09:30] Mike McGinn: I guess there are multiple takes here. One is that - having been on both sides of the equation of running for office and holding office - running for office pushes you to black and white, and being in office pushes you to gray. And that's just the reality of it - and we saw that, right? Having to accept that with the misdemeanors backlog, there were cases not worth prosecuting. That was absolutely true and so it was nice to see that acknowledgement. The idea that some people are incorrigible and beyond hope - where's that exactly coming from? And that a punitive response is going to have a better response than some type of a diversion, or treatment, or through a restorative approach? It's fascinating to me how this narrative - that punishment alone can resolve it - is out there.
And I think this goes back to what you led off with - with the fear of crime being in the news again. And it was interesting because the headlines were - the fear of crime has gone down, while crime is going up. And we talked about before the show of - this type of survey doesn't necessarily, where the changes in the numbers are small year to year - that doesn't necessarily tell you a lot because it's not the type of survey that really seeks to hold your target audience that you pulled the same, year to year. It's a voluntary survey, there's a lot of outreach - like who takes it. And actually those numbers seem to hold steady, but it kind of raises a really important issue, I think, for me - that fear of crime is the issue being put out there to be dealt with as opposed to the crime itself. And I do want to say feeling safe in your community is a value and it matters. And it's something that government and community working together can help provide to residents, but I think we also all know that fear of crime can drive us to responses that aren't the best way to reduce crime. So if a neighborhood is particularly fearful of crime, but has low crime - should they get more police service to deal with that fear of crime? Or is a neighborhood that has less fear of crime, but has a higher rate of shootings or youth involved in - getting involved in violence, or gangs, or bad activities - should they get - is because they're less fearful, should they get fewer resources? Should that be factored in, or should there be more resources to help deal with the root causes?
So I guess the relation back to Ann Davison and her choices is - politicians use fear of crime, excuse me, and the media uses fear of crime to drive their preferred policy response. So, we need to get rid of, we need to have more homeless sweeps 'cause there's crime. Or we need to do something about aggressive panhandlers - they're generating the fear - like somehow or another, the panhandling is going to turn into an aggressive physical action, right? So they drive it so as to drive the policy response - and not even during elections. And it's just kind of funny hearing that from the folks who say, they're the adults in the room, and data-driven, and just trying to engage in good government. Where's the evidence as to what will reduce crime more? Where's the evidence about what will make people feel safer?
Fear is being used as a tool often, and to me, it's kind of notable that fear of crime has remained, actually, in a relatively narrow band over the years of those surveys while the crime has been increasing. And it kind of tells me that really what we need to be looking at is how do we protect people from crime, and reduce the harm, and mitigate the damage that crime causes in communities. Not simply look at how do we make people feel better.
[00:13:57] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, absolutely. And to me, this is a very - it's kind of a similar and related issue to me when I hear people talking about the fear of crime, and this neighborhood is so scared - and it's not tied to the actual numbers that are reported. Similar to when people talk about the problem being visible homelessness, as opposed to people being unhoused. Those are two very different things. And the fear of crime is a very different thing than reacting to crime as it currently exists. Now, to your point, crime is bad, crime is bad. And we don't want anyone to get victimized, and I think people get so flabbergasted - I know I get so exasperated when the conversation focuses on these narrow areas of focus, usually tied to punitive punishment of these people, and it is not at all tied to the ultimate goal, which is making people safer.
We're having all of these little conversations about, well, what is a police staffing level need to be? We need to get to this staffing level - without talking about, okay, well, how does that staffing level impact public safety? Historically at the staffing level or a lower staffing level, was crime lower with lower staffing? Then why do we need more? And if the projection is always more, are you ever assuming that police are gonna make things safer and we might need fewer? It never seems to go in that direction. They never seem to project that things are going to get safer because of what they're doing, and we're going to need fewer officers. It's always more and more and more and more and more, regardless of which way the crime numbers go.
So I would just love to be focused on the ultimate goal, the ultimate metric being safety and not the ultimate metric being, well, did we achieve a certain number of staffing in this area, or did we prosecute a certain number of people in this way? They're not tying that to safety because those don't impact safety. They would if they could, they're not because they can't. And we have just gone on for too long, we have invested too much money, and now there are too many people scared and being victimized to keep moving in this wrong and unproductive direction. We've wasted enough money. Can we please start spending them on things that will actually make us safer? You can probably hear my frustration coming through there, but it's just so frustrating seeing people suffer from the impacts of crime and we could do something productive about it that would increase the likelihood that a person who victimized someone will not victimize them again. And instead we move in the opposite direction.
[00:16:58] Mike McGinn: So many different things to talk about here. One is, and we've talked about these things before on the show, this single focus on the metric of number of police officers as being the measure of public safety - it's a great issue for the media to cover - it's one that is very central to legislative decision-making, right? How much money do we put in the budget? You can measure that. And how many police officers. But we also, and I'll argue - having officers on patrol, on foot, or in the community, or working in some way - can absolutely be helpful, not just merely to feelings of safety, but to helping prevent minor crime. We had experience in that with things like directed patrol. It's just that that's not it, that's not the whole thing - so my challenge - far from it, in fact.
My challenge to the media here, if anyone's listening over at The Seattle Times, is - and I haven't seen this coverage yet - and from the TV stations. Who is committing the crimes, who are the victims of crimes, what do we know about these individuals that are both committing crimes and are the victims of crimes? And that's - we have a murder rate that has gone up significantly. Violent crime is up 61% since I left office. So yeah, I went to SPD and I did the math to see, and what are the causes of that? And obviously there are causes that are beyond the scope of a city, right? This is something we're seeing everywhere. But at the same time, there are plenty of things that city governments can do to get at that. And we don't have an answer to that question. I seem to recall hearing this stat from Mayor Harrell - that a large number of the victims of crime, the shooting victims, were young Black men. Okay, well, what were the circumstances in which that occurred? What does that tell us? What happened to the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative - is my question. I would love a deep dive into that.
I think I know - Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative was started by Mayor Greg Nickels, because there were a number of youths involved in shootings. When I came into office, we continued it and sought to expand it. By the way, Mayor Harrell's advisor, Tim Burgess, opposed the expansion 'cause he sent data to support it. At the time, in my second year in office or so - it was 2011 or 2012 - we saw an uptick in the number of shootings early in the year. I made a decision and was taken to every murder site in the City over the last year - Saturday morning, one of the deputy chiefs would arrive at my house, and pick me up, and we would drive from place to place - and this took a number of weekends 'til we got through it - and we would go through all of the details that the City knew. And one of the things that was really emerging to me was the number of crimes that involved people returning to the community from jail.
So at the same time, the Black pastors approached me and proposed that we invest more in their work providing community supports - not just housing or job training, but really providing the type of emotional and community support to help keep, really help reintegrate someone back into the community. The Black Prisoners' Caucus - I went and met with the Black Prisoners' Caucus in Monroe, at the Monroe Prison Facility, to learn more about what they were doing. And they were preparing themselves to return, but they wanted help - they needed help. So we launched a program called CareerBridge - where is that now? So where's the coverage of this? We're getting breathless coverage of fear, we're getting breathless coverage of the number of police officers and the morale of police officers. Where's the coverage of who is committing the crimes, what do we know about the victims, what do we know about the circumstances, and what do we know about strategies that might affect that?
'Cause here's the other reality. We're not getting 125 new cops in the coming year as budgeted. We're going to get 98, according to the most recent report. And we're going to lose 125. The number of police officers is going down. So you want to - you can argue as much as you want about the effectiveness of additional police officers in reducing crime. And again, I'm someone who did our best to deploy our officers in a way that would reduce crime, but that's not a solution. That's not a solution under today's circumstances. So why are we still arguing about that? Why is the media still covering that, other than it's a simple one to cover? Let's do the digging and let's start figuring out what's happening here. Is the rise in murders - is this related to domestic violence - people in the pandemic? Well, what are the resources, then, we could give to women, and it's almost always women, that are the victims of such violence? If that's the issue, how could we change that? So there are community organizations, community members, proven programs, and we're stuck on number of cops. And that's the debate we're going to cover, 'cause that's the debate driven by fearful people who want an immediate response, as opposed to thoughtful people who would like to figure out how to actually solve it.
[00:22:53] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and I hope the conversation moves that way soon. I was talking last week - certainly I'm a very online person on Twitter also - and it is just so frustrating to see us stuck in these same conversations that don't have anything to do with making us safe at the end of the day.
[00:23:13] Mike McGinn: It's the same conversation we were having - I remember being the President of the Greenwood Community Council, and Peter Steinbrueck coming in and we were talking about the neighborhood policing plan to hire a hundred more cops - and this would have been in the 2007 timeframe or so. Well, we keep having that same conversation about what's the hiring plan, and we don't have the - let's have the conversation about the crime fighting plan, and the community safety plan. And in this regard, I'd really encourage Mayor Harrell to call people in. I mean, it was so meaningful for me to be out in the community and hear - both from our police department about what they knew - but to hear from the Black pastors, to hear from the Youth Violence Prevention street teams - to hear from them about their experiences and what was going on. To hear from our immigrant refugee communities, and the kids from those communities, talking about their experiences - all of that really informed my understanding that this requires a community response to a community issue. It's not a police response to a community issue. It takes all of us on this one.
[00:24:26] Crystal Fincher: It takes all of us, and it takes not - look, you asked what happened to the Youth Violence Prevention Initiative and a number of other initiatives. And my take on that is - you had a successor come in and because it wasn't their program, they discontinued it. That's my take.
[00:24:46] Mike McGinn: That's what I've heard. That's what I've heard, but I've actually not seen reporting on that and I wasn't in the room. So what happened? I also know another thing that happened was that after I left, the command staff of the police department was replaced by those much more sympathetic to the union. We now have a police union that is taunting us. Right? "Do you feel safe yet?" they're saying, that's what they're telling us. And they're saying that because you haven't spoken to us in the right way or respected us in the right way. We don't feel good about our work anymore and I get it - every employee needs to feel respected and appreciated at a city, but where was the - there was a story about police from Snohomish County coming down to give mutual aid to SPD. And they said, we're not going to come back. They felt like the SPD officers were sitting around - that was a news story - one story, ran, was done. What's going on here, folks? Is there a serious morale issue? And we're told there is - that's why officers are leaving. But is it affecting how they're dealing with crime, and what would be the way to deal with that? That's also worth reporting on, and trying to get to the bottom of, and having oversight hearings on - not just the number of officers. Because if you're going to add more officers, but we have a culture that feels itself at odds with the community it's supposed to police - and we can have a whole discussion about whose fault that is - but it needs to be fixed if we're gonna move forward. So let's get to the how-do-we-fix-it part and not just be mired in the let's-hire-more-officers.
[00:26:37] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and as I see with so many issues, the issues of SPD leadership, Guild leadership today - the seeds were sown in the big leadership -
[00:26:53] Mike McGinn: Purge - purge would be a good word.
[00:26:57] Crystal Fincher: - purge, that immediately followed your exit from the mayor's office. And that purge was - I think there was actually reporting that found somewhat of a paper trail on this - but there was a culture war going on, realistically, within SPD. And the mayor does have a lot of say about the chief. The mayor and the chief being aligned is really critical for any changes that the mayor is trying to enact - for reforms to happen, there has to be tight alignment with the mayor and the police chief, and both pushing in the same direction and supporting each other. And you were doing that and pushing in a very different direction that a number of people who were really happy with what the status quo was before, who wanted to take a different approach with officers, who felt that you were too oppressive in what you were demanding. And there was a capitulation made, and discipline immediately removed, and just things changed. And I just would like -
[00:28:17] Mike McGinn: I don't want to claim that I had all this figured out - being mayor was hard, and I don't want to claim that I had this all figured out. But it is definitely true - I have a document here that was shared with me by somebody who did a public disclosure request - I don't think it's ever been reported on. It's a memo from Martha Choe to Ed Murray during the transition about what's going on and here's -
[00:28:43] Crystal Fincher: Is this not public? This is what I was thinking about - was this not public?
[00:28:47] Mike McGinn: Well, people know what happened, but they don't - I don't think that anybody's reported on this specific document. Ron Smith of the Police Officers Guild - he was the head - called to request, I call Pugel regarding demotion, in my Transition Chair capacity. The head of the union was calling the new mayor to fulfill the promise to let go of him. Martha Choe had to explain that he didn't have the power to do that 'cause he wasn't the mayor yet.
[00:29:19] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and we knew that the endorsement was - that was the deal.
[00:29:24] Mike McGinn: There was a deal. And the deal was that - at the time - the union came to Jim Pugel and asked him to reduce discipline. There were a number of discipline matters under appeal - they asked Jim to reduce discipline, Jim didn't, and they endorsed Murray, and then Jim was demoted from his interim post. A new interim was appointed and the discipline was reduced. It was a deal that was made.
[00:29:55] Crystal Fincher: That was a sad, sad time. That was a sad time.
[00:29:59] Mike McGinn: Yeah. So it's just - I know. And Ed Murray then spent the next four years claiming he was a reformer, but the message was really clear to anyone in the department that if you were going to get sideways with the police officers union, your career could be cut short within the department, based upon the election of the next mayor. I think Kathleen O'Toole came then, and she had to hire her people now - after all of the union-friendly, remaining command staff were there - so then we ended up with a period where they had an excess of captains, which was the highest rank. Captains become deputies or assistants or chiefs, but captain is the official rank, pay grade, et cetera, where the title - if you lose your deputy chief, you go back to being captain. Anyway, they ended up with an excess of captains 'cause there were all the captains that were appointed by Ed's interim and then all the captains appointed by Kathleen O'Toole.
But again, I think the message came through really loud and clear within the department. And we also lost - that was when the department started using blast balls much more for control. The City police commission - the Community Police Commission - wrote them multiple times saying you need to do something about the crowd management, the use of blast balls is excessive. And so we really went through a different type of crowd management strategy that we'd been trying to use. And again, ours wasn't perfect - I really don't want to claim that, but we were trying not to repeat the mistakes of WTO and trying not to get ourselves into the situation that they found themselves in. I remember - my command staff, whom I met with weekly, by the way, I met with the entire command staff weekly in my office - they were like, you really have to be careful about how you do this. Because if you create something that the crowd can push against, if the crowd wants to try it - if you create - you can create the circumstances in which the crowd transfers its anger to you.
[00:32:01] Crystal Fincher: Yes.
[00:32:02] Mike McGinn: And that is exactly what SPD did with setting up that blockade near the precinct.
[00:32:09] Crystal Fincher: It's an escalation - it's an instigation and an escalation.
[00:32:12] Mike McGinn: And it was just - and as soon as it happened and when they were told finally to back down, their response was to abandon the precinct without communication to Mayor Durkan. And so we really had a situation there where - or even Carmen Best - really had a situation where the police department felt it could make its own decisions about how to proceed, that it really wasn't subject to civilian control. And again, that's always -
[00:32:39] Crystal Fincher: They went rogue.
[00:32:41] Mike McGinn: - always going to be an issue with any officer, or anyone in the department, but it's boy - when it went up that high in the department, that's a big deal.
[00:32:50] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and I think the thing that's frustrating even looking at that - that makes them less safe. And again, just the focus on hearing accounts from people who've previously been in the department, or in the department - and there definitely has been a culture shift. And there definitely is a feeling from a lot of police officers that it is an us versus them mentality, and they are there to enforce and knock some heads and to keep things in line by force. But that makes them less safe too, and I just want everyone to be safe and healthy at the end of the day, just not to victimize each other, and just to do things.
And to your point, you didn't have it all figured out. It's not like you had some special magic wand and could do it. But a lot of people may not know that I did not always support you - I opposed you before I supported you. And what I actually found very surprising - was just the amount of work you put into understanding and addressing the problem. And that is what I feel has been missing from this - the going to every site, talking to the community, gathering all the information, going beyond the soundbite and the simplicity of "We need more cops. We just need this. We just need that." And through putting in the time, through involving the community, through having tons of town halls throughout the cities and throughout the city, and really trying to build relationships within communities, and build an understanding and at least a trust that, Hey, you're there - even if it's going to be a tough conversation, you're going to be there. You're going to be back. And you actually care about fixing the things that they're saying are the problems, and working together with people to say, okay, this is what you're seeing as the problem - let's work together to fix it. What do you need? How can we help in figuring that out?
And that took a lot of work - it took a lot of people power, it took a lot of energy and time, and I was surprised at how much just internally was invested in doing that. It was more than I had seen elsewhere, it was certainly more than I was expecting walking in. And I do think that that influenced public safety - I do believe that the Youth Violence Prevention Initiative reduced youth violence, prevented youth violence. And the focus on, yeah, we need to keep our streets safe today, but ultimately we need to prevent crime and working on solutions that did that. And now we have so much more data that shows that's exactly the right thing to do.
[00:35:48] Mike McGinn: Take a look at the READI program in Chicago - READI, R-E-A-D-I - people should take a look at that. It's really a similar model to the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, extended older - that was one of the other things we wanted to do. We wanted to extend the age range of the Youth Violence Prevention Initiative from 18 to 21, right? Because people who need that support - it doesn't end at 18. I don't think very many well-off parents abandon their kids at 18, and I don't think we should abandon youth that are facing challenges in their life when they turn 18 either.
So I think there was a really a lot of - there's a lot you can do. And I also don't want to make it sound - I want people to think that this is like a long-term thing - like hiring and training officers takes a long time. I bet you, we could get a lot more street team members, we could get a lot more community engagement. These nonprofits exist - they need the funding, they can expand their work, and that person that they're talking to - as soon as they get the additional money to do that, that's somebody who might not commit a crime as a result of that. I mean, I think that the effects of this can be seen actually a lot more rapidly. We're not talking about - if you do pre-K right, it'll reduce that person's time in crime after high school - we're talking about intervening right now with the people most at risk of crime. And oftentimes that is that - the teen to young adult age range, oftentimes it's somebody returning to the community who doesn't have a place to land - can't find housing, can't find work, whose community supports are thin. We can help with those things, but we really have to do a deep dive.
And again, I really - I think that that would be, again that's anyone on The Seattle Times whose listening - maybe we should tweak this. Let's do a deep dive on who, what we know about the victims of murder right now, and the people that are committing murders right now. What do we know? And what would - where would that knowledge lead us to, in terms of preventing it. And crime statistics can be a little - people say, oh, well, everybody doesn't report all crimes, et cetera, et cetera. But murder is really an indicator because that's tracked, so let's figure this out. And I just - we're not going to be able to solve everything, and we're not going to be able to escape national trends, but we can use our resources here in a way that makes a difference - we should.
[00:38:38] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, we absolutely should. Well, we did a deeper dive into that topic than we were originally planning, but I think that was a productive conversation. And if it helps advance the conversation about truly making people more safe, and not just saying public safety and meaning officer staffing levels, or public safety and meaning how many people are we prosecuting - but public safety meaning how many people are not being victimized, how many people are safer and feel safer in communities. That's an urgent need in the City of Seattle and King County and everywhere we're at. And I just hope we become more thoughtful and keep our eyes on what ultimately needs to happen. And the real metric - it's are people safer. We need people to be safer. We need to stop spinning our tails on things that don't make us safer and and proceed with things that are.
With that, I thank you all for listening to Hacks & Wonks on this Friday, April 29th, 2022. The producer of Hacks & Wonks is Lisl Stadler and assistant producer Shannon Cheng, with assistance from Emma Mudd. And our insightful co-host today is activist, community leader, former mayor of Seattle with a sweet jump shot, and Executive Director of America Walks, Mike McGinn. You can find Mike on Twitter @mayormcginn, you can find me on Twitter @finchfrii. And now you can follow Hacks & Wonks wherever you get your podcasts - just type "Hacks and Wonks" into the search bar. Be sure to subscribe to get the full versions of our Friday almost-live shows 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.