Late on Tuesday, the Seattle City Council voted 7-2 to override Mayor Jenny Durkan’s veto of cuts to police spending approved by the City Council last month.
The vote only applies to cuts in spending scheduled to take place during the remainder of 2020, impacting approximately $4 million in planned spending from an overall annual budget of $400 million. Much deeper cuts have been proposed to the Seattle Police Department budget for 2021.
Former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best resigned in August after she spoke out against the cuts proposed by the City Council, only to have the body turn around and propose to cut the salary for Best and her command staff.
In going forward with the override vote, the City Council was responding to taunts from BLM activists such as “If Black lives matter then prove it.”
City Council members continue to argue that traditional methods of policing the community are “broken” and need to be replaced. The debate about today’s vote was vague on where the cuts would take place, but all seemed to understand that some reduction in police personnel would be involved. It is estimated that approximately 100 positions will be lost, though how many will be police officers remains to be determined. Also likely to be cut are members of the “Navigation Team” that does outreach to the homeless and works with other city workers that remove homeless camps. The police presence maintains the peace in stressful situations. Without police presence there will now be real questions with regard to the safety of those city workers and whether that program will continue. The proposals also follow through on cuts to some command staff salaries as earlier threatened.
Implementing the funding reductions now falls to Durkan, who complained on Tuesday before the vote that the Council had not discussed with her plans for how to come up with the $4 million in cuts they were about to pass. The vote today did step back from the cuts proposed back in August when the Council voted to cut 14% from the budget for the remainder of 2020.
Protesters have demanded, and the City Council has endorsed a funding cut of up to 50% in the years ahead. Mayor Durkan’s proposed budget for 2021 has not yet been submitted to the City Council for consideration. That is expected to take place in the next couple weeks, at which time the debate will shift to larger and more draconian reductions in police spending for next year.
But some members of the City Council made clear that, in their view, the cuts in 2020 are a small down payment on cuts to come in the future. According to City Councilman Dan Strauss:
“The changes proposed in the 2020 rebalanced budget are not radical or earth shattering. They are reasonable and responsible first steps in a long process to re-envision the way we handle public safety.”
Councilmember Kshama Sawant credited “ferocious” pressure by the Black Lives Matter movement in recent days for Tuesday’s result, noting several colleagues kept constituents in suspense until the last minute.
And as proof once again of truth in the old Winston Churchill quote “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile-hoping it will eat him last”, Seattle activists had this to say about ultra-liberal city mayor Jenny Durkan:
“Today, we are encouraged to see the City Council, emboldened by the support of tens of thousands of BIPOC community members, resist Mayor Durkan’s bullying tactics and anti-Black obstructionism.”
How about that Jenny — you’re both a bully and an anti-black obstructionist.
In the olden days that meant you wore a White Robe with “KKK” stitched in.
How does it feel to be demonized for trying to do is what you think is right?