Week in Review: August 12, 2022 - with Melissa Santos
Release Date: 08/12/2022
Hacks & Wonks
On this Hacks & Wonks week-in-review, Crystal is joined by Hacks & Wonks’ very own Production Coordinator, Bryce Cannatelli! The show starts with some new polling from Crosscut/Elway looking at November’s upcoming general election. Current Senator Patty Murray is maintaining a fair lead against challenger Tiffany Smiley, who released a new ad this week that sees her pushing a “Seattle is Dying” narrative, filmed in front of the closed Starbucks along E Olive Way. In police news, mayor Bruce Harrell has chosen his SPD Chief, and it’s the same interim chief...info_outline Summer Stinson from the Economic Opportunity Institute on Why Washington Needs Progressive Revenue
Hacks & Wonks
This week on the show, Summer Stinson, Executive Director of the Economic Opportunity Institute (EOI), stops by to talk about the amazing work EOI has been doing and the benefits that progressive revenue presents across the state. Our tax system affects all aspects of life. How we tax income equitably in inequitably, what programs we invest in, have significant impacts on whether individuals and families will struggle or have access to necessary resources. Because of our lack of an income tax and reliance on sales tax, it’s the poorest Washingtonians’ who spend the most of their income on...info_outline Week in Review: September 16, 2022 - with Mike McGinn
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! Starting with the local strike news, Seattle teachers ended their strike earlier this week, and Seattle public school students returned to classes on Wednesday morning. The strike was successful in getting district negotiators to the table, and getting some of their concerns accounted for. Beyond pay, teachers were fighting for manageable class sizes, special education and mental health resources, and adequate non-teacher staff like nurses and...info_outline Chanel Rhymes from the Northwest Community Bail Fund: How Our Current Bail System Hurts Communities
Hacks & Wonks
On this Hacks & Wonks midweek show, the Chanel Rhymes, Director of Advocacy at the Northwest Community Bail Fund, joins Crystal Fincher to discuss our desperate need for bail reform. The NCBF is dedicated to ending cash bail and pretrial detention in Washington state. They do advocacy for reform, court watching to hold the system accountable, and they raise funds to provide bail for people who can’t afford it on their own. Chanel explains the difficulties that jailing people prior to a conviction causes for people before they’re even convicted of a crime, and dispels criticisms of bail...info_outline Week in Review: September 9, 2022 - with Erica C. Barnett
Hacks & Wonks
On this Hacks & Wonks week-in-review, Crystal Fincher is joined by Seattle political reporter, editor of Publicla, co-host of the Seattle Nice podcast, and author of Quitter: A Memoir of Drinking, Relapse, and Recovery, Erica C. Barnett! They start the show discussing the teachers strikes happening across the state. Schools all over Washington are facing unreasonable class sizes and under-resourced necessary programs like special education and mental health assistance. Despite claims from districts that teachers are just fighting for better pay, educator’s priorities for these strikes are...info_outline RE-AIR: Transforming Systems of Harm with Sean Goode & Rebecca Thornton of Choose 180
Hacks & Wonks
Sean Goode and Rebecca Thornton from Choose 180 stop by to share how to transform systems of harm and injustice - by supporting young people impacted by them as well as their own staff in doing this work. They discuss a better world where neighborhoods are resourced, generative programs are co-created, and the humanity of those accused of causing harm is centered alongside the healing of those who are harmed. Such a world is not as far off as one may think, but does require the transfer of power to those closest to the pain and a long-enough runway to have lasting effects. As always, a full...info_outline Week in Review: September 2, 2022 - with Robert Cruickshank
Hacks & Wonks
Today on the show, host Crystal Fincher is joined by Robert Cruickshank, Chair of Sierra Club Seattle and a long-time professional communications and political strategist. The episode starts with a look at the most eye-catching story out of Seattle this week: Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell’s leaked comments from a meeting with SPD. In stark contrast to Harrell’s initially stated “One Seattle” approach, Harrell seemingly contradicted many of his prior statements and promises regarding public safety and homelessness, blamed several people and organizations for the lack of progress on his...info_outline RE-AIR: The State of Public Safety in Seattle with Senior Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell
Hacks & Wonks
On this midweek show, Senior Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell joins Crystal for an extensive conversation about public safety in Seattle. Their discussion ranges from how to handle an officer shortage with a long hiring pipeline, the Harrell administration’s approach to encampment sweeps, how safety involves more than just policing, and the thought process on creating a third department (beyond Fire and Police). The importance of negotiating the SPOG contract in removing obstacles to progress is covered, as well as the thinking behind hotspot policing and strategic use of limited public safety...info_outline Week In Review: August 26, 2022 - with Dujie Tahat & Kelsey Hamlin
Hacks & Wonks
Follow us on our new Twitter account at ! Today on the show, Crystal is joined by political consultants Dujie Tahat and Kelsey Hamlin, from DTC Consulting and The Poet Salon Podcast. They start the show discussing the King County Prosecutor race, looking at the candidates' views on the Youth Diversion Program, and breaking down the candidates' views and approaches to public safety. This race shows how party affiliations get blurred in prosecutorial races, and is an interesting example of how social justice, public health, and police reform are framed in political conversations. In housing and...info_outline RE-AIR: Marc Dones and the Honest Truth about Ending Homelessness
Hacks & Wonks
Marc Dones, CEO of the King County Regional Homelessness Authority, and Crystal have an in-depth, honest conversation about addressing homelessness. They talk through the critical need to acknowledge the lack of appropriate housing supply, the harm our system has traditionally perpetuated on those it aims to serve, and the desperate state of a chronically underfunded service infrastructure. Though the scope of the problem is daunting, they discuss how the solutions are mostly straightforward, but hinge on a real commitment to resourcing them. As always, a full text transcript of the show is...info_outline
On this week-in-review, Crystal is joined by Axios reporter Melissa Santos. They start off looking at the larger trends from this last week’s primary, including why the predicted ‘red wave’ didn’t materialize. Next, they talk about Olgy Diaz’s appointment to the Tacoma City council, discussing her impressive credentials and watershed status as the first Latina to serve on the Council. In Seattle City Council news, Crystal and Melissa look at the two recent abortion- and trans-related protections the council passed this week. For updates on public health, our hosts look at how Washington state is lifting most of its COVID emergency orders, where the state is at with its COVID response, and what our outlook is for MPV and its vaccine. After that, the two discuss the redistricting plans for the Seattle City Council, and different neighborhoods’ responses to the proposed new district lines and close the show by looking at the state of behavioral health crisis response in our neighborhoods, discussing the county’s plans for an emergency walk-in centers, the county’s plans to improve its behavioral health response, and our lack of crisis response staff.
As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at officialhacksandwonks.com.
You can follow Hacks & Wonks on Twitter at @HacksWonks. Find the host, Crystal Fincher on Twitter at @finchfrii and find today’s co-host, Melissa Santos, at @MelissaSantos1. More info is available at officialhacksandwonks.com.
“Our blue legislature bucks GOP trend” by Melissa Santos from Axios: https://www.axios.com/local/seattle/2022/08/12/washington-state-blue-legislature-gop-trend
“Tacoma City Council selects its newest member. She’s the first Latina to serve” by Liz Moomey from The News Tribune: https://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/article264330356.html?taid=62f470bf1a1c2c0001b63754&utm_campaign=trueanthem&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter
“Seattle passes protections for abortion and gender affirming care” by KUOW Staff from KUOW: https://kuow.org/stories/seattle-passes-protections-for-abortion-and-gender-affirming-care
“MPV cases doubling nearly every week in WA, as U.S. declares public health emergency” by Elise Takahama from The Seattle Times: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/monkeypox-cases-doubling-nearly-every-week-in-wa-as-us-set-to-declare-public-health-emergency/
"US will stretch monkeypox vaccine supply with smaller doses" by Matthew Perrone from The Seattle Times: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/us-will-stretch-monkeypox-vaccine-supply-with-smaller-doses/
Washington state says goodbye to most COVID emergency orders” by Melissa Santos from Axios: https://www.axios.com/local/seattle/2022/08/09/washington-end-most-covid-emergency-orders
"New map would redraw Seattle’s City Council districts, with changes for Georgetown, Magnolia" by Daniel Beekman from The Seattle Times: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/new-map-would-redraw-seattles-city-council-districts-with-changes-for-georgetown-magnolia/
“Racial Equity Advocates Like Seattle’s Newly Proposed Political Boundaries. Magnolia Residents Do Not.” by Hannah Krieg from The Stranger: https://www.thestranger.com/news/2022/08/04/77339585/racial-equity-advocates-like-seattles-newly-proposed-political-boundaries-magnolia-residents-do-not
“County Plans Emergency Walk-In Centers for Behavioral Health Crises” by Erica C. Barnett from Publicola: https://publicola.com/2022/08/11/county-plans-emergency-walk-in-centers-for-behavioral-health-crises/
"Local Leaders Announce New Coalition to Address Behavioral Health Crisis" by Will Casey from The Stranger: https://www.thestranger.com/news/2022/08/11/77680008/local-leaders-announce-new-coalition-to-address-behavioral-health-crisis
“Designated crisis responders, a ‘last resort’ in mental health care, face overwhelming demand” by Esmy Jimenez from The Seattle Times: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/designated-crisis-responders-a-last-resort-in-mental-health-care-face-overwhelming-demand/
[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. 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 us a review because it helps a lot. 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 today's cohost: Seattle Axios reporter, Melissa Santos.
[00:01:00] Melissa Santos: Hello, thanks for having me.
[00:01:01] Crystal Fincher: Hey, thanks for being back. We always enjoy having you. So there were a number of things that happened this week. I think we'll start off just talking about the elections real quick. We got more results this week. Things are looking more conclusive - a couple of late-straggling races have been decided, including one of the congressional - two, really of the congressional district races. It looks like in the 47th Legislative District race that Republican Bill Boyce will be facing Democratic candidate Senator - former Senator - Claudia Kauffman. And that in the 47th House seat, that Democrat Shukri Olow and Democrat Chris Stearns will both be getting through and Republicans will actually not be making it in that seat, despite that race including three different Republicans - one the pick of the GOP that raised over $200,000, Carmen Goers, who actually finished in last place. So a number of things got settled, but overall, as you look at these elections, what are your takeaways, Melissa?
[00:02:16] Melissa Santos: On the legislative side, really things look mostly similar to what they looked like on primary night, in the sense that a lot of the races that Republicans had hoped to pick up, I think Democrats still look really strong in. And that's in a lot of those swing districts in the suburbs - in Island County, the Democrats have pretty strong performances in some House races that I think Republicans have been eyeing for a pickup in the 10th District. The 28th Legislative District looks pretty much like the incumbent Democrats are in really good shape there - that's around Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Lakewood, University Place. And I think that the Republicans not having someone in that 47th District open seat is maybe not what people would've predicted when talking about a red wave coming this year, and that Democrats have been saying - we're just trying to defend what we have, we're not really planning to add seats here. But they look like they're in a pretty good position to defend the seats.
The only place where things look like it'll be rough for Democrats are seats up in the 47th - sorry, the 42nd Legislative District in Whatcom County, I think, have some disappointing results for Democrats when it comes to trying to get the former - the State Senate seat formerly held by Republican Doug Ericksen. That's gonna be a tough race where it looks like the State House Democratic Rep who's running for it might have a really tough race to fight in November. She wants to pick up that seat for the Democrats. But again, Democrats were trying to just defend mostly this year. So I think they look like they're in a pretty good position to do that.
One thing that's a little bit interesting is a lot of the fringier types in the Republican legislative caucus in the House are actually not going to be returning to the legislature next year. And some of that's just because they ran for Congress in some cases, like Brad Klippert.
[00:04:15] Crystal Fincher: And Vicki Kraft.
[00:04:16] Melissa Santos: Yes, and Vicki Kraft. So I'm interested to see how that plays out. There are some races where legislative candidates who are being accused of being RINOs [Republicans In Name Only] actually have advanced through the primary. And I am wondering if some Republicans - are they more moderate or just hoping that they beat the more Trumpy Republicans essentially. So that's something I'm watching actually going forward is - while we certainly have situations across the nation where Trump-endorsed Republicans are getting through - we see this in the 3rd Congressional District race, here in our state, where Jaime Herrera Beutler who voted to impeach Trump will not be getting through to the general - that was finalized this week. But locally in legislative races, I'm not sure that the more far-right candidates will win out in all these races in November. So I'm watching that - how does our state picture, when it comes to the Republican party, compare to what we're seeing nationally. And it's always interesting to see how Washington does 'cause we're a little bit different sometimes as a state in how we vote versus the rest of the country.
[00:05:25] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, absolutely. And that sets up an interesting dynamic for Republicans, I think, in that it is really helpful when - just from a campaign perspective - when everyone is consistent with the message that's being delivered for the party, what priorities are in terms of values. And so there have been - legislatively - some more moderate Republicans making it through. There are certainly some real extremists. And again, "moderate" is an interesting word for Republicans 'cause - when it is gonna come to some of these caucus votes, I think moderation is gonna effectively fly out of the window. Or being afraid to speak out on certain things that challenge some of the more extreme elements in the party, which essentially in my opinion, enables that element of the party.
But with Joe Kent higher on the ticket and being so visible, being a frequent guest on Hannity, Trump-endorsed, and really vocal about a number of things like opposing aid to Ukraine, about wanting Jim Jordan - who is extremely problematic and has been accused of ignoring sexual assault allegations on his watch under his responsibility - wanting him to replace Kevin McCarthy as the leader of the party, certainly moving in a much more extreme direction. A number of those things are gonna be inconsistent, I think, with what some of the other Republicans, I think legislatively under JT Wilcox certainly, Republicans are gonna wanna be talking about. So there may be just a bit of a mismatched message there and it will be interesting to see how the party navigates that, but especially coming from a place where the extremism - you look at the primaries - certainly did not land. And some of, even the criticisms just legislatively, of Republicans who were on the message that they wanted to be on, did not turn out to be very effective at all - that presents a challenge for them in the general.
[00:07:40] Melissa Santos: I think that was interesting in the Federal Way area. I think everyone, including Democrats, were saying - yeah, there's a lot of voters concerned about public safety there. I think everyone thought maybe the Democrats might be a little bit more vulnerable from attacks from Republicans in that area in South King County around Federal Way, with Republicans say - Hey, Democrats passed all these bills that hamstring police, so they can't keep you safe. I think everyone thought that line of argument might work better in some of those areas in South King County than it did. And so I'm wondering if Republicans will change their approach or not, or if they're just gonna stick with hammering Democrats on public safety. I think that maybe we'll see just more talk about economy and inflation and maybe a little less of the public safety attacks - possibly - based on those results.
[00:08:29] Crystal Fincher: And they certainly hit hard on both of those. It is interesting to see - particularly - so you have Jamila Taylor, who is the incumbent representative there, there's another open House seat, and then Claire Wilson in the Senate seat. Jamila Taylor, who's the head of the Legislative Black Caucus, did play a leading role in passing a lot of, number of the police accountability reforms that police, a number of police unions, and people who are saying "Back the Blue" and these were problematic. She actually has a police officer running against her in that district. And also, the mayor of Federal Way, Jim Ferrell, is running for King County Prosecutor on a hard line, lock 'em up kind of message. They've been working overtime to blame legislators, primarily Jamila Taylor, for some of the crime that they've seen. And holding community meetings - really trying to ratchet up sentiment against Jamila Taylor - helping out both her challenger and Jim Ferrell was the plan. And again, that seemed to fall flat. Jamila Taylor finished with 54% in that race and the most votes out of any Democrat. You saw Democrats across the board, both Claire Wilson and Jamila Taylor, get 54% and 55% of the vote. In a primary, that is certainly where you would want to be and that's really a hard number to beat in the general. And then in the other open seat, you had two Democratic candidates combine for, I think, 55% of the vote.
So it is - where they attempted to make that argument the hardest, it seemed to fall almost the flattest. And it goes to - we talked about this on the Post-Primary Recap a little bit - I think it goes to show that the conversation publicly - certainly the political conversation about public safety - I think is too flat and does not account for where the public actually is. I think people are absolutely concerned about crime and rightfully so - we have to attack gun violence, we have to attack property crime and violent crime. We have to do better than we're doing now. But I think people are recognizing that the things that we have been doing have not been successful. And we have been trying to lock people up and people see that there's a need for behavioral health interventions, for housing, for substance use treatment and that those things are absent. And that you can send a policeman to do that, but they don't have the tools to address that even if they were the appropriate responder. And there's a lot of people saying they aren't even the appropriate response for a number of these things. So I just think regular voters - regular people - just have a more nuanced and realistic view of what needs to happen.
[00:11:42] Melissa Santos: I also think that message - we could talk about those races forever, probably - but I think that message might land especially flat in communities like South King County that are predominantly people of color in many of these communities. They want to address - well, okay, I should not group everyone together, let me back up here - but I think a lot of people see the effects of crime on their communities and their family members and want support, not just a crackdown. And I don't know if that - I don't know - I'm generalizing here and I shouldn't, but I think that maybe that -
[00:12:09] Crystal Fincher: I think it's across the board. I feel like - we saw polling in Seattle where, even if you break it down by Seattle City Council district, whether it's North Seattle or West Seattle which are predominantly white areas, in addition to other areas with higher percentage of people of color - they're saying near universally - when given, asked the question - where would you allocate more of your tax dollars in the realm of public safety to make a difference? They start off by saying behavioral health treatment, substance use disorder treatment, treating root causes. And then "more officers" trails those things. So it's - and even before more officers, they're saying better training for officers so they do a better job of responding when they are called. So I just think that across the board, there's - Republicans have gotten far and have done a lot by talking about the problem. And I think what the primary showed is that you're gonna have to do a better job of articulating a logical and reasonable solution to the problem. 'Cause people have heard talk about the problem for a long time, this isn't new. They're ready for someone to do something about it and they want to hear something that sounds credible, with some evidence behind it, that'll make a difference. And I don't think Republicans articulated that at all. And I think Democrats are talking about things more in line with where voters are at.
But certainly, we could talk about those election results forever, but we will move on to other news. Speaking of newly elected people, we have a new appointment of a person on the Tacoma City Council - Olgy Diaz was just unanimously appointed as the first Latina member of the Tacoma City Council last Tuesday night. She was one of 43 applicants to apply, ended up making the shortlist, and then was officially appointed on Tuesday night. What did you take away from this? You previously covered - based in Tacoma, covered Tacoma previously, worked at The News Tribune. What does Olgy bring to the Council?
[00:14:41] Melissa Santos: Olgy is really experienced in politics, I want to say. For way back when - I think I started talking to Olgy years and years ago - she was, definitely in her role with leading One America, she's done a lot of policy work at the state level for a long time. She worked in the Legislature, so I talked to her in that capacity. And she brings a lot of experience to the table - I think more than a lot of people who apply for vacancies on city councils, for sure. But I honestly was also just - I was blown away to read - I didn't realize the Tacoma City Council has never had a Latina member before and that really blew my mind, given the diversity of Tacoma and given that that's a community where you have people who just weren't represented for such a long time. I worked in Tacoma for eight years at the paper and I didn't - I guess I didn't realize that was the case.
So Olgy - separately - brings just a ton of experience. She leads the National Women's Political Caucus of Washington now as president and I talked to her for stories in that capacity, and she's always very knowledgeable and really thoughtful. But yeah, that's just - in terms of representation, she brings a lot to the Council that apparently it hasn't had - in terms of experience and lived experience as well. I didn't watch the whole appointment process every step of the way, but it seems like that is a very solid choice, given that you have someone coming in possibly that has way more, broader political knowledge than a lot of the sitting councilmembers in some cases. And that's not a knock on the sitting councilmembers, but you just have someone really, really versed in politics and policy in Washington State coming onto that city council.
[00:16:26] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and an unusual amount of experience. I think, to your point, not a knock on anyone else. Olgy just has an unusual amount of experience on both the policy and political side. She's the Government Affairs Director for Forterra, she's president of the National Women's Political Caucus as you said, on the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition and Institute for a Democratic Future board. She's previously been on the city's Human Rights Commission. She just has so many, so much experience from within, working within the legislature and elsewhere. And if - full disclosure - Olgy Diaz is not just a friend, but also worked for Olgy as her consultant and love the woman. But just completely dynamic and if you know Olgy, you know she reps South Tacoma harder than anyone else just about that you've ever met. She deeply, deeply loves the city, particularly South Tacoma, and has been an advocate for the city in every role that she's had. So just really excited to see her appointed.
In other local news - this week, Seattle, the Seattle City Council stood up and passed protections for abortion and gender affirming care. What did they do?
[00:17:52] Melissa Santos: They passed something that makes it a misdemeanor for someone to interfere, intimidate, or try and threaten someone who is seeking an abortion and they also have some civil rights protections that they passed. Those are especially - you might not think that's necessarily an issue in Seattle all the time, but I think that - certainly the misdemeanors for trying to interfere for someone getting treatment or getting abortion care, I think that is something that could actually be used and called upon sometime in Seattle with certain individual cases. And I do think it's - not necessarily in a bad way - but a messaging bill on both of them - in a way saying - care is protected here. Even though in Washington State we do have some state law protections for abortion - better than in most states - I think it's partly about sending a message to people that your care will not be interfered with here. And maybe even a message to people in other states - that they can come - actually that is part of it - is that you can come to Seattle and get care and you will not, we will support you. And so that's part of why they're doing it - both on a practical level, but also sending a message that we will not tolerate people trying to dissuade, to discourage people who decided to get an abortion from getting the care that they are seeking.
[00:19:18] Crystal Fincher: And I know Councilmember Tammy Morales has also said that she plans to introduce further legislation to prevent crisis pregnancy centers from misrepresenting the facts, misleading people - which has happened in other situations with pregnancy crisis centers, which sometimes bill themselves as abortion care providers. A person seeking an abortion finds them, goes, and unexpectedly is - in some situations - heavily pressured not to have an abortion. And there's been situations where they have been found to have been coerced into not having an abortion. And so that would just seek to make sure that everybody correctly represents themselves, and who they are, and what they are attempting to do. Lots of people do, to your point, look at Seattle and say - okay, but this - things were safe here anyway. I do think the first one - we see a lot of counter-protestors - of people making points in Seattle, going to Seattle to protest different things, because it has a reputation for being progressive, where progressive policy is. So it attacks people who really dislike those policies and moving in that direction. I think this is helpful for that. And it serves as model legislation. There are some very red areas here in the state. There are other localities - we may have neighboring states that - the right to abortion is coming to an end. And so having legislation like this that has passed in the region, that has passed nearby, that is in place, that survives legal challenges against them makes it easier for other localities to pass the same. And so I think that it is a very positive thing for Seattle to take the lead passing model legislation. Certainly aren't the first to pass, but having it in the region is very, very helpful. So glad to see that.
Also this week - some challenging news. One - monkeypox, now referred to as MPV, cases have been doubling nearly every week in Washington and has been declared a public health emergency. Where do we stand here?
[00:21:37] Melissa Santos: I think that right now, we have about 220 cases - and that's what I think I saw on the CDC website just earlier today. And last week, it was 70 fewer than that, at least - we have been seeing, especially early on, every week or so the cases were doubling in our state. And we remember how COVID started in a way - it was small at first and things just can really expand quickly. This isn't spread the same way COVID is - and I'm not saying it is - but we do definitely have a vaccine shortage here for this and that's a huge concern. I asked the State Department of Health - actually, I have not put this in the story yet, but I was like - how many people do you feel like you need to treat that are at high risk? And they said it's almost 80,000. And took me a long time to get that number, but I think we only have - we only are gonna have something like 20-something thousand vaccines doses coming in, maybe 25,000, through at least early September. So there's a lot of potential for this to spread before we get vaccines to treat the people who are most at risk. That's a big concern.
And so I haven't checked in our state yet - this sort of decision that we can stretch these doses further by divvying them up and doing, making each dose into maybe five doses - that could really help here. So I need to check whether in our state we're going forward with that and if that meets the need or not. But we still need a second dose for everybody, even beyond that. So it looks like the math just doesn't work and we're still gonna be short. And in that time, how far will it spread? Because it's not just - it's not a sexually transmitted disease that only is going to spread among LGBT individuals - other people are getting it and will get it. So that is - and also that community needs as much support as they can get anyway, regardless. But this is not something that just affects someone else, for instance, if you're not a member of that community. It's something that can affect everybody, and it's - everyone's afraid of another situation like we had with COVID - could it spread before we get a handle on it? And I think it's still an unknown question right now.
[00:23:57] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, big unknown question. And to your point, it was - the CDC just announced that the vaccine supply can be stretched by giving one-fifth of the normal dose, so stretched five times what we thought we previously had. But that was just announced, so our local plans for that are probably in progress and process and hopefully we'll hear more about that soon. But haven't yet as that information was just announced - I want to say yesterday, if not day before. With that, to your point, it is - some people are under the mistaken impression that this is a sexually transmitted infection. It is not. It can spread by just skin-to-skin contact. If two people are wearing shorts and at a concert, or have short-sleeve shirts and are rubbing against each other, it can be spread just by touching especially infected lesions, by surfaces if there's a high enough amount on a surface. It is pretty hardy - lasts a long time on a number of surfaces or clothes or different things like that. Certainly a lot of concern with kids going back into school, kids in daycare that we may see an increase particularly among children - just because they are around each other and touching each other and playing as they do and that is how this virus can spread. So certainly getting as many people, starting with the highest risk people, vaccinated is important. We are short - there are just no two ways about that and running behind. Testing capacity has also been a challenge. So hopefully with these emergency declarations that we've seen locally and nationally that we fast forward the response to that and get prepared pretty quickly, but we will say that.
Also this week, most COVID emergency orders have been ended. What happened here?
[00:26:08] Melissa Santos: Some of them are still getting phased out, but the governor just very recently announced in our state that he's going to be - he's ending 12 COVID emergency orders. And so I went - wait, how many are left then, 'cause I don't think we have that many. And the governor's office - there's only 10 - once these mostly healthcare, procedure-related orders are phased out, will only be 10 COVID emergency orders left. And honestly, some of those have even been scaled back from what they were. They're - one of the orders relates to practicing some safe distancing measures or certain precautions in schools - that's really a step back from having schools be completely closed, like we had at one point. So even those 10 aren't necessarily as stringent as the orders we were seeing earlier in the pandemic.
What does that really signify? I think that the governor has said - because we have good treatment options available, it doesn't mean that COVID is no longer a threat, but we have better ways of dealing with it essentially. It's not like early in the pandemic when nobody was vaccinated. We have a fairly high vaccination rate in our state compared to some others. And we have some treatment options that are better. And at least right now - well, I say this - our hospitals aren't pushed completely beyond capacity. Although, however - this week Harborview actually is over capacity, so that's still a potential problem going forward. But we just have better ways of dealing with the virus than we did. It doesn't mean it's not a threat, it doesn't mean that people aren't still getting hospitalized and even dying - because they are. But we're moving to a different stage of this pandemic where we're just not going to have as many restrictions and we're going to approach the virus in a different way.
[00:27:51] Crystal Fincher: Yeah. Yeah, that pretty much covers it there.
[00:27:56] Melissa Santos: The thing - I do think for public - I've asked the governor a couple times - what is your standard for lifting the underlying emergency order? 'Cause we still are in a state of emergency over COVID and that does give the governor, if something comes up, quick power to ban some activity or something. And if there's a public health risk, he could order, for instance, indoor mask wearing again if he wanted. He has not indicated he plans to, but it gives him a little more power. Republicans are still mad about that, but in effect, there aren't that many orders actually in place anymore. We're just not living under as many restrictions as we once were.
[00:28:34] Crystal Fincher: Yeah. So the protections are going away - there are lots of people who are very concerned about this. This does not seem tethered to - earlier in the pandemic - in some situations when cases were spreading at a lower amount than they were in some areas then than they are today - they tied it to certain metrics and to hospital capacity and different things. So there seemed like there was an underlying data-based justification that would dictate what the appropriate health response was. This seems untethered from all of that. And I think a lot of people's criticisms of this are - the actions that are taken, or realistically the actions that are no longer being taken, the justification behind that seems to be driven by convenience or by a desire just to get back to normal or fatigue. And instead of what health precautions dictate would be wise.
I think at the very minimum we would be a lot better off if - we were very late in, from the CDCs perspective, in acknowledging that this is an airborne virus. And so air quality, air purification, air turnover in indoor spaces is extremely important, especially given how helpful that is for wildfire air mitigation. We're having a higher, more low-quality air days than we have before. Focusing on indoor air purification - I wish there were more of a push for that, more awareness for that, more assistance for that. Because it just seems like - given this and monkeypox, which has evidence that it is spread also via airborne -
[00:30:37] Melissa Santos: Or at least droplets in close - yeah, at least like close breathy, breathing-ey stuff.
[00:30:44] Crystal Fincher: Yes - that air purification is important. And so I wish we would make a greater push because still - that's not really aggressively talked about by most of our public health entities. And there's just not an awareness because of that, by a lot of people who are not necessarily being, saying - no, I don't want to do that - but just don't understand the importance of that. And many businesses that could take steps, but just don't know that that's what they should be doing. Sometimes it's still here - well, we're sanitizing all of these surfaces, which is going to come in handy for monkeypox certainly, but is not really an effective mitigation for COVID when - hey, let's talk about air purification instead of you wiping down surfaces. Just interesting and this may ramp up again, depending on what happens with MPV infections and spread. So we'll see how that continues.
[00:31:47] Melissa Santos: But this time we have a vaccine at least - there is a vaccine that exists. Remember the beginning of COVID - of course, everyone remembers - there was no vaccine. So this feels like - theoretically, we should be able to address it faster because we have a vaccine, but there's just a shortage nationwide of the vaccine. So that's, I think, an extra frustrating layer of the monkeypox problem - is that we have a tool, but we just don't have enough of it. In COVID, we just were all completely in the dark for months and months and months and months - and anyway.
[00:32:17] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and unfortunately the effect on the ground of not having enough is the same as not having any.
[00:32:23] Melissa Santos: Right. Yeah.
[00:32:24] Crystal Fincher: And so people are left with greater exposure to the virus and to spreading the virus than there would be otherwise, because we don't have the adequate supply of it. Which they say they're working on, but of course those things - unless you are prepared beforehand and making an effort to be prepared beforehand, it takes a while to get that ramped up. I think they're saying the earliest we could anticipate additional supply would be in the September timeframe, and oftentimes that's when it starts to trickle. And so it could be October before we see a meaningful amount of additional supply or longer. Just stay on top of information, be aware out there, and we will see.
Very important thing happening within the City of Seattle - is Seattle City Council district redistricting, and what's happening. There have been some good articles written recently - both in The Seattle Times, especially in The Stranger by Hannah Krieg - about racial equity advocates actually being happy about the newly proposed political boundaries for council districts. But some residents of Magnolia, the expensive and exclusive Magnolia community, who have been known to advocate against any type of growth, or development, or any change to their community, other people getting greater access to their community and the political power that comes with who they've been and their ability to have an outsized voice, realistically, in local politics. They're not that happy. What's happening here?
[00:34:16] Melissa Santos: The proposal that at least is moving forward at this point would split Magnolia, right? So this is something that communities of color have argued as being - Hey, in other areas, our communities are split and that dilutes our voice. And now it's interesting that Magnolia, which is not historically an area where - that has been predominantly people of color - every district in Seattle is changing - safe to say that it's been a whiter area. They're saying - Hey, wait, whoa, whoa, whoa - wait, we're gonna get split, that's gonna dilute our voice. So it's an interesting dynamic there.
And what's also interesting - and it makes sense because the same organizations have been working on city redistricting and state redistricting, to some degree - we're seeing this movement to really unite and ensure communities in South Seattle are not divided. So in this - this was something that they really were trying to do with congressional districts - is make sure that South Seattle communities of color have a coalition and aren't split. And especially having the - well, let's see, and at least in state redistricting - making sure the International District is connected in some way to other parts of South Seattle and Beacon Hill. That was a priority in one of the congressional district redistricting for some of these groups that are now working on Seattle redistricting. One of the things that it would do is put South Park and Georgetown in the same district, which is interesting because I think those two communities work together on a lot of issues that affect the Duwamish and affect - again, a lot of people of color that live in those districts - there are issues that really would affect both of them. And so putting them in the same district, I could see why that would make sense. And you also have - I want to make sure I have this right, but I think - making sure Beacon Hill and it is connected to South Seattle as well. I'm gonna check here - is it also the International District here we're talking as well? Oh, Yesler Terrace - that's right.
[00:36:12] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, so CID and Yesler Terrace will be in District 2 - kept them both in District 2 - that those were some really, really important considerations. And large percentages of those communities have talked about how important that is. You just talked about Georgetown and South Park being in that district. Looking at Lake City, Northgate, and Broadview in District 5. Also keeping growing renter populations together in South Lake Union and Downtown together there has been making a difference. Both communities of color and, as we talk in the larger redistricting conversation, communities of interest - and now with more than half of the City being renters - renters have been largely overlooked in terms of redistricting and City policy until now. And really what a number of these organizations are saying is - we've been overlooked, we have not been absent, but we've been ignored in this and communities and voices from places like Magnolia have been overrepresented and have been catered to this time. And there's a saying - when you're used to privilege, equity looks like oppression. And so Magnolia is saying - we're losing our voice - and kind of collectively, interests from the rest of the City are saying - no, what you're doing is losing the ability to speak over our voices. But now that we're all at the table and all have a voice, it's time for us to also be recognized as valid and important and worthy of preservation and continuity and representation and not have it broken up in favor of predominantly wealthy homeowners who are saying - well, we're a historically important community. Well, are you historically important and the change that the rest of the City has seen hasn't come to your district because you have fought so vehemently against it. And then turn around and say - and that's why you should cater to us and keep us together because we continue to fight against any kind of change. And realistically saying - hey, other districts have changed and boundaries need to change in those other areas to accommodate that.
And so this does - certainly not all that advocates have asked for, but some meaningful progress and some promising boundaries, I think, for a lot of people in the City, for a lot of people who are not wealthy, for people who are renters no matter what the income is - because of the challenges that just the rental population is facing. And to your point, neighborhoods who have worked together and who share interests, who now have the opportunity to have that represented politically within the City? I think that's very helpful and I definitely hope people stay engaged. In this redistricting process. And as the voices from some of those communities who have had greater access to an ability to participate in these redistricting and City processes, and who've had the inside track and who have been listened to to a greater degree than others, that you add your voice to the conversation to make sure that it isn't drowned out by anyone else.
Looking at a recent announcement - and kind of announcement is a better word than a new policy or a plan - because it is just announced and announced the intention to take action, but we have yet to see. There was a press conference yesterday about emergency walk-in centers for behavioral health cases, addressing our regional behavioral health crisis here. What was announced and what is the deal?
[00:40:32] Melissa Santos: What exactly is going to happen remains a little bit unclear to me exactly, but basically King County Executive Dow Constantine announced a plan to just expand services for people who are experiencing a behavioral health crisis. And it's going to be part of his 2023 budget proposal, which isn't coming out 'til next month. So the idea is having more short- and long-term treatment - so more walk-in treatment that's available and more places to send people who have acute mental health needs. He was talking about how the County's lost a third of its residential behavioral healthcare beds - Erica Barnett at PubliCola reported on this pretty extensively - and there's just a concern there just won't be enough. I was surprised by the stat that there's only one crisis stabilization unit in the County that's 16 beds - that's not very much, especially when we know people suffer mental health crises more frequently than that small number of beds might indicate. So what's interesting is we want to put more money in somewhere so people aren't getting treated in jails, that they have a better place to go, but we're not quite - we don't know exactly the scope of this, or how much money exactly we're talking about to put toward more beds. I guess there's some plans to do so - is what I got from the executive.
[00:42:06] Crystal Fincher: Certainly from a regional perspective, we saw representation from the mayor's office for the City of Seattle, county executive certainly, county council, regional leaders in behavioral health treatment and homelessness - all saying that - Hey, we intend to take action to address this. Like you said, Dow said that he will be speaking more substantively to this in terms of details with his budget announcement and what he plans to do with that. Universal acknowledgement that this is a crisis, that they lack funding and resources in this area, and say that they intend to do better with a focus, like you said, on walk-in treatment and the ability to provide that. But we just don't know the details yet. We'll be excited to see that. And you covered this week, just the tall task ahead of them, because we've spoken about before and lots of people have talked about even in this press conference, a problem that we almost require that people - the only access that people can get to treatment sometimes is if they've been arrested, which is just a wildly inefficient way to address this, especially when it plays a role in creating some of the problems with crime and other things. But even with the newly rolled-out intervention system with an attempt to - if someone who previously would've called 911 now can call a dedicated kind of other crisis line to try and get an alternative response - but even that is severely underfunded. What's happening with that?
[00:44:00] Melissa Santos: So with 988 - this is the three-digit number people can call when they have a mental health crisis and they'll be connected to a counselor who can help talk them through it. The idea is ultimately for that system to also be able to send trained crisis responders - largely instead of police in many, many cases - meet people in-person, not just talk to them on the phone. But we just don't have enough of these mobile crisis response teams. There's money in the state budget to add more over the next couple of years, especially in rural areas that just don't have the coverage right now. They just don't have enough teams to be able to get to people when they need it. That's something they want to expand so there's more of a response than - that isn't a police officer showing up at your door. So that's the ultimate vision for this new line you call - 988 - but it's not fully implemented right now. You still will get some support. And if you call, I'm not trying to say people should not call the line, but they don't necessarily have all the resources they want to be able to efficiently deploy people - I shouldn't say deploy, it sounds very military - but deploy civilian trained helpers to people who are experiencing a crisis. So that's where they want it to go and The Seattle Times had an article just about how some of those designated crisis responders right now are just stretched so thin and that's just not gonna change immediately, even with some new state money coming in to add more people to do those sorts of things. And designated crisis responders have other duties - they deal with actually to getting people to treatment - some involuntarily in certain cases. Again, it's different than a police response and right now there's just not enough of those folks.
[00:45:55] Crystal Fincher: Which jeopardizes the willingness of people to continue to call. Certainly the possibility that a police response can ultimately happen from someone who was requesting a behavioral health or another type of intervention response. And that is still a possibility which some people find challenging or - hey, they expected to avoid that or have something different if they call this and that might not always be the case. But it's certainly a challenge and I think one of the things that was talked about yesterday, which kind of wraps this under a whole umbrella, is there needs to be a lot more done in terms of infrastructure and capacity from - with there being someone to call, someone appropriate to call for whatever the challenge is, an appropriate response. If that is a behavioral health trained person, a crisis intervener, someone like that - and places to take people. Someone does respond and then can connect that person to services that exist. We have problems in a number of areas saying - yeah, we offered services or services are available and they aren't, or they aren't appropriate for the crisis that's there. They don't meet the needs of the person and their situation. So certainly a lot to build out. I think it is a positive step that we're hearing acknowledgement of this and a unified plan to take action, but still need to see what actually results 'cause sometimes we hear big fanfare to start and don't get much substantive on the back end. Certainly I hope with a number of the people involved in this that we do get some substantive progress and I hope to see that, I would expect to see that - but I'm looking forward to it. With that, I think that wraps up this show today.
Thank you so much for listening to Hacks & Wonks on this Friday, August 12th, 2022. The producer of Hacks & Wonks is Lisl Stadler, assistant producer is Shannon Cheng with assistance from Bryce Cannatelli - we have an incredible team here at Hacks & Wonks - just want to continue to say that it is not just me, it is completely our team and not possible without this full team. Our wonderful co-host today is Seattle Axios reporter Melissa Santos. You can find Melissa on Twitter @MelissaSantos1. You can follow Hacks & Wonks on the new Twitter account @HacksWonks, 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 deliver 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 and Election 2022 resources at officialhacksandwonks.com and in the podcast episode notes.
Thanks for tuning in - talk to you next time.