May 20, 2022
On this Hacks & Wonks week-in-review, Crystal talks with Seattle political consultant Heather Weiner. They start by reviewing the news from filing week.
Crystal and Heather discuss one campaign in particular, Jim Ferrell’s bid for King Co. Prosecutor, that just lost access to the Democratic voter database. They then give an impassioned plea for listeners to file to run for Precinct Committee Officer.
Crystal and Heather transition to discussing news from a Seattle high school that a principal has been demoted and reassigned after revealing plans to reduce contact tracing after the district asked her to keep quiet about it, because she was concerned about the health of her students and their families.
The two close the show by discussing a Crosscut/Elway poll revealing that over 80% of Seattle voters said that lack of mental health and addiction services is the number one contributor to crime, and they want to prioritize directing their tax dollars towards those services over all else, if given the choice.
As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at officialhacksandwonks.com.
File for Precinct Committee Officer: https://kingcounty.gov/depts/elections/for-candidates/online-pco-filing.aspx
Tweet by Will Casey about Jim Ferrell: https://twitter.com/willjcasey/status/1527449561685323777?s=20&t=Vj09ki0vJAnUaGix-bRkOA
“Seattle Schools demotes Cleveland principal after she told families district would limit contact tracing, attorney says” by Dahlia Bazzaz from The Seattle Times: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/seattle-schools-demotes-cleveland-principal-after-she-told-families-district-would-limit-contact-tracing-attorney-says/
Cleveland High School students plan walkout to protest new principal by Monica Velez from The Seattle Times: https://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/cleveland-high-school-students-plan-walkout-to-protest-appointment-of-new-principal/
“How does Seattle feel about crime? It’s complicated” by Josh Cohen from Crosscut: https://crosscut.com/politics/2022/05/how-does-seattle-feel-about-crime-its-complicated
Crosscut/Elway Poll: https://crosscut.com/sites/default/files/files/crosscut-elway-poll.pdf
Commit to Change WA: https://www.committochangewa.org
[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. Today, we're continuing our Friday almost-live shows where we review the news of the week. Welcome back to the program: friend of the show and today's co-host, political consultant and urban farmer, Heather Weiner.
[00:00:50] Heather Weiner: Hi Crystal - so nice to be here. Thanks for having me.
[00:00:55] Crystal Fincher: Hey, hey, hey - so nice to have you here, always nice to have you here. Well, today is the last day of candidate filing week. Why is today is such a big deal, Heather?
[00:01:06] Heather Weiner: Wow - that's kind like we're at a Seder right now - why - asking these really deep questions - why is today such an important day? Let's go through and talk about all the reasons and the history of it. Know that today is the most fun day for political hacks and wonks - because today is the day we find out who is going - which of the incumbents are going to have to defend their seats, who is going to show up for some of those open seats, and where and then we can start guessing about where the money is going to be spent on all of these leg district campaigns this year. And it's going to be a tough year for Democrats - everybody's saying that. And so it'd be really interesting to see how much money is going to be spent on inter-party stuff with Democrats trying to push each other out and make it to the top two.
[00:01:58] Crystal Fincher: It is - and especially interesting this year because we - these people are running in new redistricted districts, so they're not defending the turf that they may have been in for the past decade. They have some new constituents and they may be in different areas, a few folks may be running in a new district for the first time, people move around in different areas - so it really is interesting to see what these races are, who's running against whom, and how these are shaping up and also projecting how they're going to perform in the new parts of their district and how that might differ from previous years. Are there any interesting things that you've seen so far based on who's filed?
[00:02:47] Heather Weiner: now, the thing I'm most excited to see is that nobody has filed - the lack of filing - and that is the lack of filing in LD 36 against Noel Frame, who is going for Reuven Carlyle's now open seat for State Senator. I'm really excited about that, I think that we don't want an inter-party fight there - and I think Noel Frame would be very tough to beat, but I also don't want to see people having to get into that. So I'm excited to see no one has filed there. What are you most excited about?
[00:03:18] Crystal Fincher: I definitely find that interesting - beating Noel would be a very, very tough thing - very popular and a strong leader for very popular policy, especially fixing our broken and regressive tax code. But one of the interesting things - looking at the open seats - how much activity is in there and looking to see how many Republicans, Republican opponents to some Democratic incumbents that seems strong have filed. And how many races in swing districts, legislative swing districts look like they're going to be really competitive this year.
[00:04:00] Heather Weiner: That's right. And there's - we're also seeing some old folk - some people who left - come back. For example, we see Mark Miloscia, who was a State Senator, trying to come back and run against Steve Hobbs for Secretary of State. Claudia Kauffman, who was also a State Senator for a long time, is now coming back and running again in the 47th - so we're seeing some old names too. But then we're seeing a whole bunch of new names, like in LD 37, which is my leg district - there's a whole bunch of people who filed to run in what is now Kirsten Harris-Talley's open seat. And none of these people are big names. These are people no one's really ever heard of before, they don't have a lot of name recognition. And that is great 'cause we want to see some new blood, some new faces, some new energy coming in.
[00:04:55] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and I'm familiar with a number of them just from lots of work that they have been doing over the past years. But a lot of that has been really visible to insiders and people who pay attention to this stuff all the time, which most people don't have the luxury or desire to do - completely understandable. And also a number of them affiliated with the Institute for a Democratic Future. And so just seeing them run there - there are several candidates this year who are -
[00:05:27] Heather Weiner: Shout out to IDF doing a great job of recruiting people to run. That is fantastic.
[00:05:33] Crystal Fincher: We're happy about it. We're happy about it. And it's just a great educational program for people who are interested in politics and policy in Washington state. Looking at a number of these positions, you talked about Mark Miloscia - notoriously anti-choice.
[00:05:49] Heather Weiner: And anti-gay marriage as well. Very conservative, comes from a very conservative religious background, and was good on some labor issues but really ended up splitting a lot of labor because he would really - ended up being a swing vote on a lot of those key social issues.
[00:06:09] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, the 30th district looking competitive with an open seat there - where you have a couple of Democrats: Pastor Carey Anderson who is garnering a lot of support, Kristine Reeves who previously was a State Representative, ran for Congress, and is now running for the State Representative position too - that open seat that was previously held by that - well, currently held and will be open - held by Jesse Johnson. So that is going to be interesting. One interesting race where Democrats are not involved so far - and to be clear, we're recording this on Monday [Friday] morning on Friday, filing week ends at 4:00 PM - so the dimension of these can change, more people can file before the end of the day. But in the 31st district, which is in southeastern King County - think like Enumclaw - you have Phil Fortunato, very conservative Republican, and Chris Vance, who used to be the Chair of the Republican Party here in the state, but now does not consider himself a Republican, he views himself as an independent and feels that the Republican Party has gone too far in the extreme direction. So that's going to be a really interesting race to watch.
[00:07:24] Heather Weiner: You should have him on the show some time, Crystal - let's invite Chris Vance. Do you think he would come? Maybe after the primary. Yeah, all right - you're like, ah, my distaste. I don't think I want him on the show. Chris Vance is very - he's run many times, he's a never-Trumper, he is conservative on taxes, a little bit more liberal on social issues. He's kind of the opposite - no, he and Mark Miloscia are probably opposites on that extreme, so it'll be really interesting to see.
[00:07:59] Crystal Fincher: Yeah. He - I think considers himself a moderate - if you were asking Republicans 10 years ago to describe where they are, he'd call himself a pragmatic Republican of 10 years ago, I think. I think we'd have a fine conversation - this is in no way projecting that I harbor ill-will towards him in any way. It would be an interesting conversation.
Looking at the 47th district, which is a very purple if not reddish-purple district, that some great candidates have worked over the past several years to turn purple and to be there in blue. But we have two open seats right now - one with the State Senator position because Mona Das is leaving. And so as you mentioned, Claudia Kauffman who was the State Senator before Joe Fain, and Satwinder Kaur who's a Seattle City Council, Seattle - who's a Kent City Councilmember is running for that seat, as well as Bill Boyce who's also a Kent City Councilmember and a Republican, Black Republican actually. And so that is going to be a really interesting race to follow, as well as the open State Representative seat that Pat Sullivan is vacating. And you have two Republican, you have two Republicans - Carmen Goers, another black Republican - they are recruiting in communities and churches, I wish lots of people would see them and their activity in suburbs, they are engaging in places where Democrats just aren't right now - and is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, as well as Ted Cooke. And then Shukri Olow which a lot of people know from the last year's County Council race - she ran against Dave Upthegrove, as well as Chris Stearns who is a City of Auburn City Councilmember running for the seat. So this - the 47th district is absolutely going to be a district to watch - it is the eastern half of Kent, Covington, Maple Valley, that area - that is absolutely going to be a district that's going to draw a lot of attention.
[00:10:18] Heather Weiner: Crystal, what do you think about the fact - so now we're naming a bunch of these districts where we're seeing a big wave of people of - young, particularly young - but lot of people of color who are running and they're running against each other. So that then makes, I think, things more complicated sometimes and also interesting. It's also great to see, but what's your - you're from the 47th - tell me a little bit about what you're thinking when you see that.
[00:10:44] Crystal Fincher: Well, I'm from - I'm actually in the 33rd, which is the neighbor of the 47th. I live right next to the 47th -
[00:10:49] Heather Weiner: Sorry to insult you.
[00:10:52] Crystal Fincher: No problem, but I will claim and rep the 33rd. It's Kent, it's - basically Kent is divided mostly among these two districts. And so I'm close to the 47th district boundary, but still in the 33rd. I think it's fine, I think it is just a signal of more people having access to our systems and institutions and wanting a voice, and our representatives looking like the communities they're running to represent. So yes, that is going to be more diverse than we've seen in the past, because it just hasn't been representative before. But they're bringing a lot of viewpoints to the tables. Like I said, there are several Republicans, who are not white, who are running in these districts - and people of color are not a monolith, lots of different perspectives and viewpoints - so it just reflects who we are as a community and that there are different people with different visions running to make their voice heard, make their case. And so we'll see - I don't think it complicates things in any way. I just think that it is a reflection of the society that we're in.
[00:12:18] Heather Weiner: Yep. Well, also - let's talk a little bit about the candidate for King County Prosecutor right now, Jim Ferrell, and what's going on. But before we do that, I want to walk back for folks who are not familiar with this. So Crystal, when a candidate files as a Democrat to run, they then get access to the Washington State Democrats' voter files, and they have to pay a fee, right?
[00:12:44] Crystal Fincher: They have to pay a fee - correct. And this voter file - just basic voter information is actually public record for anyone - so your name, address - we don't do registration by party in this state - in other states, it would be a party that you register with. Your basic information is - I think date of birth is in there - it might, I believe date of birth is in just the publicly available information - so that's there. The Party and actually both parties, but the Democratic Party specifically, also supplements this information with other information they have - received from commercial sources, other publicly available sources, research, canvassing that is done - and it's basically information on folks in neighborhoods, how people are likely to vote, what their voting history is, all that kind of stuff. That is useful information just to figure out who you need to talk to, or mail to, or communicate with - so it's a really useful list, database of information.
[00:13:54] Heather Weiner: Very - yes, it's very valuable because you can't necessarily - you probably do not have the resources to contact all 60,000 people in your district - I just made up that number. And you want to know who's likely to vote, who's likely to vote Democrat, you want to know how many times they've voted, is there - what their phone number is, do they live somewhere other than where they're registered to vote? There's so much data in there that's so valuable and so important. And so the State Democrats, led by Tina Podlodowski - but they've always done this - have terms and conditions that you have to sign when you take that, when you get access to that voter file.
So Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell, who's running for King County Prosecutor as a Democrat, has now just lost his access to that file. Why?
[00:14:41] Crystal Fincher: He has just lost his access to the file. He lost it because he, although he has run as a Democrat for a long time - several years - and a lot of people feel like - just because in some areas it is impossible, very hard to get elected if you label yourself as a Republican. Some people just use the label Democrat and run with Republican policies, which he has done for a long time. But this race specifically - he has veered really far to the right and it's showing in this race - we've talked about this a little bit before on the show, but has aligned with many Republican interests and especially trying to appeal to some of the fear-based public safety and policing narratives, and has leaned really hard into that. And now has - was advertised as being a part of a Republican-sponsored event, which is definitely not what most Democrats are doing.
And to be clear, this is not like - hey. , anyone has access to it. This database is funded and owned by the Democratic Party. There are other databases that you can have access to - there's L2 Political, there's the Republican Party one - and so each one has its own database, you can do your own. The Democratic Party is saying - hey, if you're acting like a Republican, going to Republican-funded events, being endorsed by Republicans - we're not - you are not looking like you're a Democrat and you should not be entitled to have the privilege of access to very proprietary, Democratic Party information. So they cut him off - which is reasonable and fair. If you're putting your resources into it, fine. If he wants to go use another voter file, that's his prerogative - but you don't get access to the Party file if you are actively working against the Party and with people who are directly opposed to the Party.
[00:16:54] Heather Weiner: Now this makes some incumbents really frustrated - because incumbent Democrats also do not want to see challengers, whether it's from the left or the right within the Democratic Party, have access to this information. And so they're often squealing and yelling at the Party about do not let a challenger get access to this information. But as Podlodowski says - look, if they're Democrats, they're Democrats - we're open to everybody getting access to this, that's just the way it works. But if you're - if you are showing up to a Patriot event like - Ferrell is being accused of his name being on this flyer for a Patriot event, then they need to take a look at it. Super interesting, though.
[00:17:39] Crystal Fincher: They absolutely need to take a look at it. And it is notable - although he is the incumbent mayor of Federal Way, he's not an incumbent in the position that he's running for. And this has been a conversation a lot of times when it comes to challenges from further to the left. There may be a moderate Democrat who is being challenged by a progressive Democrat. And there have been issues in the past with denying access to progressive Democrats. Tina and the Party took some steps to address that, to make that less of a problem, and to give more people who are clearly in favor of progressive values - clearing the way for them to have access. But when it comes to people who are aligning themselves with a lot of dangerous and false right-wing rhetoric and leaning into some really troubling and damaging narratives about who is dangerous in our society and what should happen to them - to me that's absolutely -
[00:18:41] Heather Weiner: And particularly when you see where that leads to real discrimination and violence - see what happened in Buffalo earlier this week. So we are, with that horrible, horrible terrorist attack. So we do absolutely have to take it very seriously. And I think it's also interesting that people are, as you note, claiming that they are Democrats - Satterberg, who's held that position for decades, has always been really clear that he was a moderate Republican. But you're right, the County has shifted and also the Republicans have shifted - like Chris Vance - people just do not want to be associated with that kind of hate.
[00:19:23] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, absolutely. And so Leesa Manion is someone who is a Democrat running for that prosecutor seat. And I think a lot of people were concerned that - it wasn't an issue of running against a person, Leesa Manion, from another Democrat. This looks like it has funding from the Republican Party and affiliated interests, and they were getting access to information that they shouldn't have.
[00:19:54] Heather Weiner: Super interesting.
[00:19:56] Crystal Fincher: Very interesting and another very, very important reminder for PCOs, or Precinct Committee Officers. If you are an elected or an appointed PCO, today is also the deadline for you to refile to maintain your status as an elected PCO, or to join it for the first time.
[00:20:19] Heather Weiner: It's really important for PCOs to do their work and to show up because you never know - you might be at a meeting where somebody is no longer, has said that they need to step down from their seat, and you get to vote on who replaces them. And so it's a very important position and very critical to be a PCO. Plus, it's fun - you get to go meet all your neighbors.
[00:20:40] Crystal Fincher: It is. And for as frustrated as folks get - and I'm definitely folks - as folks get about the national party and looking at some of the action or inaction there and some of the frustration, the local party apparatus actually has a lot of power and influence that I think a lot of people don't realize. Over a third of our legislative seats are actually filled - initially filled - by appointment, and it is the Party and PCOs who hold the power to select people that are then - you select a shortlist that then goes to the county council to be approved, they pick one of those people that the PCOs pick. But you are determining that list, you are picking who is going to be the new representative. They then have to run for re-election, but many times the person who you pick has an advantage when they're running. So you are - it's a little democracy shortcut, and so these folks are elected by their precinct, basically neighborhood-level stuff - this is grassroots.
Local politics is organizing - it's local organizing - and you have power to appoint candidates, to endorse candidates, to make your voice heard. So it's really important to have people who represent their neighborhoods, their communities who look like the communities that they serve. And that really dictates the direction of our local party organizations. There's one in each legislative district, there are some other affinity-based local party organizations - and there is actually power that is attached to that. And Iit's frustrating to see people overlooking really attainable power - there actually is no filing fee for PCOs. For other positions if you run for office, it comes with a fee that can be a few hundred, or even over a thousand dollars. This - you don't have to pay, you can just be a representative of your party. So I completely encourage people to listen to this. We record Friday mornings - by the time this is edited and gets out, it's usually Friday afternoon. The deadline is forced - if you're hearing this, probably not much time left or a little bit after.
If you don't make it in time, you can be an appointed PCO, which has a lot of the same ability - not all of it - but if you have any questions, feel free to hit me up directly. Email me, tweet me, whatever. And I can help you do this, but don't overlook this lever of power that's available - that for as hard as we work to elect people, this ability - and some south King County districts the - really, literally 30 people, are voting on who is going to be the next elected representative. You talk about your vote making a difference - that's a big difference that can be made when you're a PCO. So please take advantage of that and file for that. We'll also include links for that in the episode notes.
There are a few things that are - a few other things - that are happening this week. And so I wanted to speak real quickly just about the situation at Cleveland High School. What's going on here, Heather?
[00:24:07] Heather Weiner: It's confusing - I'm not really sure what's happening. So they've had - the students were threatening to do a walkout - this, by the way, is right down the street from my house - had been threatening to do a walkout because of the way that the current principal has been handling some of the COVID restrictions. And now the previous principal is coming back to be principal, but that principal had been in trouble - am I saying this right? Had been, there've been some questions about her handling of a teacher who'd been accused of assault. So what do you know?
[00:24:43] Crystal Fincher: So this appears to be a really unfortunate situation. And learned about this because so many students and parents were speaking out at a school board meeting - and this principal had been notified by the district that they were going to change their contact tracing procedures, that they were not going to be as rigorous in them, that they were going to be paring them back. But the district told the principal - but don't tell anyone. The principal was feeling extremely conflicted because COVID is still happening, we are not out of this pandemic. In fact, there is a surge coming, there is now news of a new variant that is even more transmissible than the last sub-variant and the Omicron variant.
And so she's thinking - okay, I think our parents and families deserve to know and have all the information necessary to make the best decisions for their families' health and safety. Some kids are living with immunocompromised people, some folks, some kids are in families with kids younger than five who have not been able to be vaccinated. There are lots of reasons why you want to know the specifics of how your school is handling COVID protections, contact tracing. And so with a more rigorous approach, there is more confidence that can be assumed that - okay, we know the source, we feel like we got everybody attached to it, and appropriate people can isolate, others can be in school. With this change, there's less rigor in that process and parents may be thinking there's more being done to protect them than there actually is. And they may want the option to step in and say - okay, well, I don't feel like this setting is appropriate or safe or healthy for my kid or my family, or maybe we'll choose to mask instead of not mask. You're really limiting parents' ability to make decisions for their families and families' ability to dictate their own comfort and actions when it comes to protecting their health and safety. So the principal said I'm not comfortable keeping this information from families. I'm going to let them know that these procedures are being changed.
The district was very, very mad about that. The principal said - I felt like that, like I was being asked to keep information, that could have really major consequences, from families. So the district came down hard on this principal who had never had any disciplinary action before. Lots of people commented that this was a pretty unprecedented level of punishment to reassign this principal - to basically demote and reassign this principal - and the students were having none of it. So they had tapped this new principal to come in and take the place, but then there seems to be some confusion in that the school district principals' organization said that this new principal is declining the appointment. I don't know if it's because of the controversy swirling, I don't know if there's more action behind the scenes, but it's definitely something to pay attention to.
And I think is something that a lot of people in middle management right now are facing in that there are a lot of people who are looking to decrease the amount of COVID protections, or just disregard what a lot of people have been counting on to keep them safe. And it seems like the bare minimum thing that seems fair to do is just to clearly communicate what you are and aren't doing - which this principal followed and is now paying for that. And I don't know that the school has ever, that the school district has articulated whether they feel it was right or justified to keep that information - it seems like this may be punishment and retribution for letting the cat out of the bag. But should that cat have ever been in the bag? I don't know. We'll continue to follow this, but it is creating a lot of angst in this community.
This is also a principal that has been with the school in this community for a long time. A lot of students of color are saying - you keep - this has been a longstanding problem that Dahlia Bazzaz of The Seattle Times has been covering for a while and is also covering this - but having more instability in those schools, more reassignments, less connection to the community - they're paying for Issues of staffing and everything to a much greater degree than other areas in the district. And so there are also issues of equity and racism and everything associated with this. And it is just challenging to see - but it is a really fair characterization to say that the students and parents do not seem happy about this and are lining up in support of their principal.
There is a poll that a lot of people probably missed. And they probably saw the headline and the characterization of it - it was a Crosscut/Elway poll - they do these every now and then, usually they get a lot more attention. And so as I saw this headline in this Crosscut article - and I do want to say a lot of times reporters don't have anything to do with the headlines, this is not a critique of this reporter in any way - but it's "How does Seattle feel about crime? It's complicated. A new Crosscut/Elway poll of likely voters finds wide gaps in perceptions of crime based on age, income and homeownership status." So with a setup like that, it seems like - oh, this must be another survey where things are split, there's no clear outcome, and if anything - it's complicated - people are mad.
Lots of people have been talking about perceptions of people being very unhappy with crime. And to be clear, crime is a problem, there's too much of it, we need to be doing more to actually stop it, and things that we know will stop it and not things that we know will just not actually solve the problem. We do need to urgently intervene to make people safer and to keep people from being victimized. It is a problem that needs to be solved with solutions we know that work, and that have data and evidence behind them. Now with this, it's like - well, there's this dichotomy a lot of times - the issue about public safety is either you want to fire all the policemen tomorrow or you totally back the blue and want a cop on every block - and it's one or the other. Do you care about public safety and want more cops, or do you want lawlessness and people running amok on the streets and no one answering when you call 911? And it's in those very binary terms a lot of times when it's being discussed.
And what this poll showed was very different than the characterization. When we actually look at this poll, there are actually some stunning - and I say stunning, like literally jaw-dropping results were in here. I don't know how many things you're aware of that poll at 90%, or 80%.
[00:32:36] Heather Weiner: Right? Never.
[00:32:38] Crystal Fincher: That almost never happens and that is headline-grabbing type of stuff. Hey, we're having this conversation on what the mayor's office should do with public safety, what the Council is doing - are they in line with what the residents want? What were voters saying last year in the elections? And lots of people trying to say that voters were saying that they want you to invest new money in cops, and they want you to invest new money in cracking down on these things. Well, Crosscut and Elway asked voters - explicitly - what do they think are the factors causing crime and what do they want to do?
[00:33:16] Heather Weiner: It was shocking to me that this was not the headline - because to say that 92% of people said that addiction and mental health program and services are what are needed, and that the biggest factor is lack of mental health and addiction services - that should be the headline.
[00:33:34] Crystal Fincher: It is shocking and jaw-dropping - to be clear, voters - and this was a survey of voters in Seattle - for each of the following factors indicate whether you think it's a major factor, a minor factor or not really a factor. And so they asked about lack of mental health and addiction services. 85% of people said lack of mental health and addiction services is a major factor. 11% said a lack of it was a minor factor. There is universal agreement in Seattle that lack of mental health and addiction services are a major factor in crime. Coming next, homelessness being a major factor in crime, 67% to 29%. Economic conditions, 63%. Political leadership, 56%. Lack of law enforcement, 53%. Number of prosecutions, 44%. Judges and sentencing, 42%. COVID pandemic, 38%. Protests and actions by activist groups -
[00:34:33] Heather Weiner: Which, by the way, is the stupidest I've ever heard.
[00:34:36] Crystal Fincher: Which is why there's so few people who support it - that's at 23%.
[00:34:38] Heather Weiner: Oh yeah - the increase in crime definitely has to do with Black Lives Matter. Yes.
[00:34:43] Crystal Fincher: Yes. And all the new population - all these new people coming to town - at 21%.
[00:34:49] Heather Weiner: All those tech bros - those tech bros were definitely doing it.
[00:34:50] Crystal Fincher: Those things were largely, largely dismissed by folks. People suggesting that it's the protests or it's new people coming to town - Seattle doesn't believe that. But let's get back to - wow, if anyone is covering - in order to responsibly cover this issue - if you are not leading with - hey, what does Seattle, what do Seattle residents want? Who are you talking to in your stories about public safety? If you are not leading with Seattle residents - a vast majority, almost everyone - 85% of Seattle residents are saying a lack of mental health and addiction services are the number one contributor to crime. More people are saying that than anyone else. Almost everyone is saying that. That should be the headline. And to be clear, even people who are not saying or even people who are saying - hey, cops may be part of the solution, and cops may have a role to play - are also saying, but you know what's a bigger role and to address the problems that we're seeing now, what the number one thing we can do is? Address some of these root causes - at the top of the list is lack of mental health and addiction services.
And I do want to get even more explicit because there's another question on this poll asking - if you could direct where your tax dollars were spent, would you have the City spend more or less on the following? And so this kind of gets to the root of the problem - what should Mayor Harrell be doing to respond to what the residents feel is making them less safe, and what kind of interventions and actions they want to see? What should this budget be looking like that is being put together right now, as we speak, coming up? What does the City demand you do, and the word demand is not more appropriate in any other situation than this answer right here - where 92% of the people who responded to the survey, people who even said - hey, if more officers are part of it, we can but more than anything, we - even more than that, more than more cops - we want addiction and mental health programs and services. Again, 92%.
[00:37:12] Heather Weiner: Now, I was polled on this - I was one of the people who polled and I'm glad I wasn't alone in my answers. I see that I was - the people are with me on this. But I noted when I took this poll that there was not - when they said - what would you, where would you direct your tax dollars? They said services, training for police officers, programs to address the root causes of crime - that's very general, who knows? Staffing courts, more prosecution. Yeah, yeah - never did they even ask about housing - that wasn't even offered. Why didn't they say - housing? Because over and over again, we know that when people are evicted or they lose their housing, they are much more likely to - they don't have access to money, they don't have access to jobs, and they're much more likely to commit economic crimes. Why wasn't housing listed in there? And I'll tell -
[00:38:07] Crystal Fincher: It would have been nice, but even more than that, I think it's an indication that again - the top three answers in this, top four answers - addiction and mental health programs and services. Again, this is explicitly - were asked - where do I want my tax dollars? Where do I want more of my tax dollars spent? 92% said I want more of my tax dollars spent to address addiction and mental health services. Only 3% said less. The number two answer was training for police officers to de-escalate situations. We talk about reform - that is actually different than - hey, more police. They're saying - if you're going to do something, we got to get them de-escalating situations. The number three answer - programs to address the root causes of crime at 80%. Number four - adding non-police staff to respond to certain situations, 75%. Staffing for the courts to process their caseload, 73%. Hiring more police officers at 64%, and more prosecutions of shoplifting and other misdemeanors at 51%. That was the last - that was in last place of all of the options listed. And again, 92% of the City.
Mayor Bruce Harrell, I am imploring you - listen to everyone in your City. City Council, listen to everyone in the City who is saying addiction and mental health programs and services. And just to folks covering public safety and this - with this result, it is really irresponsible to lead without talking about this. And it is astounding to me that this was not the headline, that this was not covered, that this just kind of floated by without anyone noticing.
[00:40:04] Heather Weiner: Well, I don't - I think there's probably two political reasons for that. Number one, it doesn't feed into the narrative that the mainstream media have really pushed for the last couple of years about crime, crime, crime, crime, crime. Fear, fear, fear, fear, fear. You're right about the budget coming up. And also the police contract is coming up. So there is, there has been this push by the Downtown Seattle Association, the Chamber, and a lot of their other friends - looking for ways that they can push to expand the police budget and to not have a lot of pushback on the contract. And you'll look at who has been appointed to the police hiring committee by Mayor Harrell right now, and it's the same folks who are supporting that agenda, including the head of the Chamber of Commerce.
[00:40:52] Crystal Fincher: It is, but there is no clearer time, more conclusive time where we can say they're just out of touch with what Seattle residents actually want, what these voters want. And there is an initiative on the ballot this year statewide that will - Initiative 1922, which is collecting signatures right now, to provide more funding for addiction and mental health services and decriminalize personal possession, to route people into addiction and mental health services - which with these numbers, looks really good. And full disclosure - I'm also working on that, but we were surprised in looking at this and these answers - just how stark and conclusive this is. And this is headline worthy. This is worth being covered.
And it's worth asking people who are asking for more cops and focusing on that, saying - well, if voters are saying that before you take the limited amount of money and invest it in that, why don't we also invest in mental health and addiction services? Maybe we should prioritize the additional money in that. And now that the City Council seems to have made their decision on the police staffing and the bonus amounts, it seems like it is time to say - okay, that's where that direction is heading. But the conversation about public safety is so much bigger than policing, which Seattle residents are screaming right now and saying - we have to address mental health and addiction services and the root causes of these issues, and that takes investment. They acknowledge it takes investment and said - in case that prior result confused you, I'm telling you where I want more of my tax dollars directed. There is nothing that I want more, in the realm of public safety, for you to do than to invest in addiction and mental health programs and services. Just an absolutely astounding result - at 92% of the City thinking that, particularly in light of the media environment - for that number to be that high is just jaw-dropping, but logical, which again -
[00:43:17] Heather Weiner: But ignored because it doesn't fit the narrative, does not fit the current dominant narrative.
[00:43:25] Crystal Fincher: Yes, and I'm here to say - it's irresponsible to ignore this. You are not covering this issue if you are not accounting for that and leading with that, and asking leadership questions about this. It's just so conclusive. When do you ever see 92% pop up in a poll? When do you -
[00:43:49] Heather Weiner: I mean, not even ice cream would be that popular because there's at least 20% of people who have a lactose intolerance or vegan. So it's more popular than ice cream.
[00:43:59] Crystal Fincher: Yeah. So for everyone listening, I hope that you engage with this - certainly this information will be linked in the show notes, but it is really important and we have to start connecting these conversations and moving them away from these special interests and people who have agendas that they're driving, to what the people are actually asking for - and it's just here in black and white. Let's listen and act.
With that, thank you for listening to Hacks & Wonks on this Friday, May 20th. The producer of Hacks & Wonks is Lisl Stadler and assistant producer, Shannon Cheng. And our wonderful co-host today was Heather Weiner. And also for the last time today - Emma Mudd is here assisting us. She is going to be moving on to UFC[W] 3000 and we wish her the best. You can find me on Twitter @finchfrii, spelled F-I-N-C-H-F-R-I-I. You can find Heather on Twitter @hlweiner, that's H-L-W-E-I-N-E-R. Now you can find and follow Hacks & Wonks on iTunes, Spotify, wherever you get your podcasts - just type "Hacks & Wonks" into the search bar. Be sure to subscribe to get our Friday almost-live shows and our midweek show delivered to your podcast feed. While you're there, leave a review - it really helps us out. 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 - we'll talk to you next time.