Nov 21, 2021
Today Crystal is joined by Amy Sundberg, author of Notes from the Emerald City & Co-Chair of the Seattle Committee of People Power Washington - Police Accountability and Shannon Cheng, Chair of People Power WA - Police Accountability. Crystal, Amy and Shannon break down the latest on the Seattle City budget process, the mess that is Washington State redistricting, and talk about a wonderful opportunity to get involved with the Institute for a Democratic Future.
As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at officialhacksandwonks.com.
Find the host, Crystal Fincher on Twitter at @finchfrii and find today’s co-hosts, Amy Sundberg at @amysundberg and Shannon Cheng at @drbestturtle. More info is available at officialhacksandwonks.com.
“Seattle’s Divide on Public Safety is Fueling a Fight Over Next Year’s Police Budget” by Ben Adlin from The South Seattle Emerald: https://southseattleemerald.com/2021/11/15/seattles-divide-on-public-safety-is-fueling-a-fight-over-next-years-police-budget/
“In Reversal, Council Keeps Durkan’s Expanded Police Budget Mostly Intact” by Paul Faruq Kiefer from The South Seattle Emerald: https://southseattleemerald.com/2021/11/19/in-reversal-council-keeps-durkans-expanded-police-budget-mostly-intact/
“Seattle’s LEAD program wins accolades, but not everyone is a believer” by Amy Radil from KUOW: https://www.kuow.org/stories/seattle-s-lead-program-wins-accolades-but-some-officials-want-more-options
“The Community Responder Model: How Cities Can Sent the Right Responder to Every 911 Call” by Amos Irwin and Betsy Pearl from the Center for American Progress: https://www.americanprogress.org/article/community-responder-model/
“Council Declines to Fund Two Big-Ticket Asks from Homeless Authority” by Erica C. Barnett from Publicola: https://publicola.com/2021/11/17/council-declines-to-fund-two-big-ticket-asks-from-homelessness-authority/
“In a first, court will decide new WA redistricting plan as commission falters” by Melissa Santos from Crosscut: https://crosscut.com/politics/2021/11/first-court-will-decide-new-wa-redistricting-plan-commission-falters
Learn more about how you can get involved with Institute for a Democratic Future here: https://democraticfuture.org/
Find the contact for your Seattle City Councilor here: https://www.seattle.gov/council/meet-the-council
[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 with a co-host. Welcome to the program today's two co-hosts - Chair of People Power Washington-Police Accountability and indispensable member of the Hacks & Wonks and Fincher Consulting teams, Dr. Shannon Cheng. And, Amy Sundberg, author of Notes from the Emerald City and Co-Chair of the Seattle Committee of People Power Washington-Police Accountability - an excellent live-tweeter of municipal meetings in Seattle, indispensable informer of all of us, and the person who's happy to take your baked goods for compensation. Welcome to both of you, Amy and Shannon.
[00:01:21] Shannon Cheng: Thanks Crystal.
[00:01:23] Amy Sundberg: Good to be here.
[00:01:24] Crystal Fincher: So I am happy to have you both on here to start talking about the Seattle budget process, the actions that the Council just took - particularly because you both have been instrumental in keeping people up-to-date on where we're at in this process. And this was an eventful week. So what has been happening?
[00:01:48] Amy Sundberg: Well, a lot of very long meetings have been happening, especially yesterday's marathon all-day meeting. I signed off at 6:30p and it was still going. So the Councilmembers have been talking about proposed amendments to the Budget Chair's Balancing Package this week.
[00:02:12] Crystal Fincher: Okay. In that process, what was under consideration and what ended up getting passed?
[00:02:19] Amy Sundberg: I mean, there was a fair amount under consideration. In terms of public safety, there were several proposed amendments that would - basically the Chair's Balancing Package decided to invest a bit less in the police department than what they had asked for in the mayor's proposed budget. And-
[00:02:51] Crystal Fincher: So pausing for a second. What is a Balancing Package?
[00:02:54] Amy Sundberg: The Balancing Package is basically Budget Chair Mosqueda - she gets feedback from community, she gets feedback from Central Staff about various issues having to do with the mayor's proposed budget, she speaks with her colleagues. They already went through a round of amendment proposing, and then she looks at where she thinks the strong consensus is going to be for the Council in terms of what they all agree on - what should be funded and what should not be funded in the year's budget. And then she puts together a package that funds these priorities and balances to where they think revenues will be for the year.
[00:03:46] Crystal Fincher: Okay. So where are the points of likely agreement? What did they end up saying, "Yeah, we're all on the same page."?
[00:03:55] Amy Sundberg: I mean, the Balancing Package - and one of the great things I think that was in that package was a huge investment in affordable housing, much more than we've ever seen. So that was very exciting. I would say that's probably the most notable thing that was happening in the budget. But in general they were funding a lot of services for people - so a lot of food assistance. And there were also a lot of district-specific investments - fairly small investments for various projects within a particular district. And obviously that varied a lot, but there were a bunch of those - different parks, different sidewalk projects, different community centers, all of that sort of thing. There was some consensus around public safety, but a lot of the requests for funding for alternatives, like alternative emergency response, for example, or for LEAD to be scaled up, or for mental -
[00:05:16] Crystal Fincher: And LEAD is Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, which is an alternative to incarceration or further involvement in the criminal legal system and trying to give people pathways and alternatives out of the system.
[00:05:31] Amy Sundberg: Exactly. Just Care, which helps house people in hotels if they don't have a home or a place to stay. Behavioral health response - all of these things were proposed in amendments and most of them were not fully funded in the Balancing Package. So there was -
[00:05:57] Crystal Fincher: And these proposals were making good on commitments that Councilmembers had made to fund alternatives to basically police patrolling the streets, and alternate responses that may be more appropriate to the challenges that people calling 911 are actually calling about. So if someone is having a behavioral health crisis, if someone is unhoused, many Councilmembers have said, "Yeah, actually probably an armed patrol response is not the appropriate response for that." Or certainly isn't able to address some of the root causes to address the issue that's being called about. So having someone with a different set of expertise that may not be armed, that doesn't introduce or escalate a situation in an unhelpful way may be more appropriate in addressing the root cause of the issue and actually solving the problem that's being called about. And the Council collectively had previously signaled and made commitments to move in that direction. Is that a fair synopsis?
[00:07:11] Amy Sundberg: Yeah. I would say that's correct and I would even go further and say it's not even particularly controversial. In general, people would like there to be alternate responses. In general, people would like people who are qualified to answer some of these needs and some of these calls - they don't all need to be armed policemen.
[00:07:35] Crystal Fincher: And so, these community responses were a number of the ones that you just talked about, but the Council seemed like it changed direction and didn't follow through on there. How did that come about? What were the votes that changed what happened?
[00:07:53] Amy Sundberg: I mean, it wasn't voted upon. I mean, that's what happened. The first round of amendments are not voted upon - and basically Chair Mosqueda has to go back and she has to look at all the different proposals, all which cost money. And then, she has to look at how much money is available and she has to make some hard choices about where to spend that money. And she did not find the money to fully fund some of these programs.
One of the ones I was personally most disappointed to see not funded was - Andrew Lewis had proposed money for standing up a CAHOOTS-style community-based alternate emergency response for 911 calls. And you know - a couple million dollars. It wasn't, in the scheme of the budget for Seattle which is very large, it was not much money. And $400,000 of that did get allocated to start working on dispatch protocols so that 911 dispatchers can start to figure out how to route calls in alternate ways, which is great. I mean, that is an important step, but the rest of the money was not given to that project to start to actually stand it up.
[00:09:14] Shannon Cheng: Yeah. I think it's just been really frustrating that it is kind of generally agreed upon that we want a faster ramp up of alternative responses to armed police, but obviously the money does have to come from somewhere. And this whole budget process has been about SPD digging their heels in - whenever any even tiny amount of money or arguing about semantics about funded versus unfunded positions. And all the energy is being spent on that instead of actually building actual solutions that are going to help all of us.
[00:09:52] Crystal Fincher: Yeah. And I mean, there were certainly articles this week and some clarifications that were trying to be made about the funding of 110 police positions and that being - that right now they are positions that are not filled. And so, it's not like they are removing any police from the streets. That was never the proposal and nothing there, even though that had been strongly implied by several of the usual suspects who report on it. But even things like that seem to be caught up in political spin and moving that away from the roots and the crux of what's being discussed. And what the community voted for. And to say that you support moving in a different direction, making a commitment to do that, and then failing to provide any funding to do that is just plain old not meeting the commitment and going back on your words. So I certainly hope that gets addressed throughout the budget process. What are the options to address this further on in the budget process and how can people advocate for seeing a budget that reflects their values?
[00:11:10] Amy Sundberg: Well, the budget process is almost over now. It will be done on Monday. So if you want to speak up, now is the time. You can definitely call and email your Councilmembers now. And there will be a chance for public comments on Monday at 2:00 PM. So I guess signups would be at around noon then - right before all the Councilmembers take their final vote on the budget, which will be at the 2:00 PM meeting on Monday.
I will say, also, regarding those positions that you talked about in the police department that aren't filled but are funded - not only are they not filled, they cannot be filled. It is literally impossible for SPD to fill those positions because they have a hiring pipeline. They've figured out how many officers they can hire next year - that amount of officers, there's money for that. And then, these are in addition to any officers that they could possibly hire. They probably can't even hire them in 2023, to be frank. So these are not positions that are going to be filled any time in the near term. The fact that this amendment was not able to be passed, even though it's completely about transparency of budget and fiscal responsibility and has very little to do with staffing, is deeply disappointing.
[00:12:47] Shannon Cheng: Yeah. I was really frustrated about that one as well, Amy. I guess I was trying to think about how to relate that to a household budget situation. So I was thinking it'd be like you have two people in a household but you only have one car. And so, you're trying to budget money to buy a second car for the second person to get to work, but conditions are currently difficult - used cars are super expensive, maybe you aren't able to get the car. But then it would be like the first person who has the car telling the other person, "No, you can't use any of this money that's been allocated for a car to take the bus to work and you have to walk." And I guess that's just how I feel about these unfunded positions - that SPD gets to hold the money and we don't get to use it for any of the other things that we desperately want and need. And it's just going to sit there. And then, if Council does ever try to take the money back that SPD isn't even able to spend, it just becomes this big messaging spinning from - we've seen already Chief Diaz and others come out and make it sound like we're trying to take money from them.
[00:13:52] Amy Sundberg: But even in the dialogue going on right now, we've been talking about these amendments that are going to restore a $10 million cut in the police department. But I mean, it's only a $10 million cut because they had all of this money to begin with for these unfilled, unfillable positions. So then, it gets to be called a cut but it's not actually - the framing of it becomes very convoluted and it becomes harder to talk about it in a really honest and straightforward way.
[00:14:23] Crystal Fincher: I mean, there is a City Councilmember who was just elected, a future member who was elected, who talked about finding waste in Seattle and finding money that isn't being used optimally that we can use for other things in the City, and there has to be somewhere. We found the somewhere. We found where money cannot be spent, where money is allocated that is not serving any purpose. These are residents' funds, this is public money. And so, where there is money that cannot be spent, it's not even possible to spend it, and is only there to serve as a budget line because they just solely want a bigger number for vanity purposes and for messaging purposes - that could be used to help the people of Seattle in different ways more directly and be spent on something, instead of just sitting dormant in an account. We found it. It's SPD budget. It is for positions that not only are not filled, cannot be filled.
And for some reason there are not the votes at this moment to use that funding for something more productive. It really is mind-boggling. It's disappointing, and I certainly would hope that people listening and those that you know, that you encourage people to call their Councilmembers to talk about this, to ground this conversation in reality and facts. And that we need dollars that are there to be spent on people, on the residents of Seattle, and not sitting in an account because of some political messaging war. It just doesn't make any kind of sense. We are facing too many challenges that are so big and so pressing that we can't let funding get caught up in this pettiness. And it is pettiness. And I'm just very challenged by that. And hope it changes, but yeah, that's been a frustrating conversation to look at.
And another frustrating thing was that the Council declined to fund two requests from the Regional Homelessness Authority and Erica Barnett wrote piece about this in PubliCola. But we have had so many conversations about the priority of addressing homelessness - certainly the mayor-elect, who is coming in, made commitments about doing this. The Council has made commitments about this. Residents of Seattle have talked about this being the most important thing. And what we've heard for years really, and heard continuing conversation about is, well, this really needs to be a regional solution. We really have to take action in conjunction with our regional partners. And we all have a role to play in this. And Seattle certainly is the largest city in the region and would be carrying the lion's share of that responsibility with contributions from others. But there is a responsibility from the City of Seattle in this. And the City declined the requests from the Homelessness Authority.
As Erica Barnett mentioned in her article, there was a request for a high acuity shelter to help stabilize unsheltered people experiencing health crises. The King County Regional Homelessness Authority asked for $19.4 million. They will receive $5 million of that, with potentially another $5 million from the county to begin work on a shelter. That's supposed to help that, but certainly looking at a quarter of the funding there. And then a $7.6 million request to fund 69 peer navigators, people who have lived experience being homeless to help unsheltered people navigate through the homeless system, won't receive any funding. This one came with a justification that there are several existing providers that provide similar services that may be able to do that without incurring additional expenses and be able to build on their current expenditures and current processes. So that will be interesting to see how that shakes out. And they're looking at certainly coming up with proposals to see how they might be able to address that, but this is something to keep our eye on and just feels a bit counter to all of the rhetoric and a number of the promises that have been made. And certainly the direction of the solution that a number of electeds in the City and people who were just elected have made. It's a bit confusing to hear rhetoric for years - we need to participate in a regional solution. It's like, "All right, regional solution, got everybody on board. Here we go." And it's like, "Yeah, never mind, maybe not so much." But we will see if the City comes up with a better plan on their own or not. But I think that's something to keep our eye on.
And also looking at how legitimate is this Regional Homelessness Authority going to be if the charter it's been given and the solutions that they are looking to implement may be dead or disabled on arrival because of a lack of funding. I mean, really a lot of what we talk about in policy - it's great to talk about these policies, it's great to talk about these alternative public safety programs. And it's great to talk about needing to address all of our unhoused neighbors and getting them into housing. It takes money and that money has to be allocated. And when it's not, we're not going to make progress on solving these problems. So I am curious to see what results from this - and what targets they have, how they plan to meet the commitments that they've made. And if not funding this as part of a regional solution is in their plans, what is the regional solution they've been talking about for years and what are they going to do about it? And I'm interested in hearing that from the mayor's perspective and from the Council perspective. Certainly it's an issue that people want addressed. It's an issue that people who are unhoused need addressed and so we will see how that happens.
[00:21:24] Amy Sundberg: It's going to be really interesting to watch the transition and see how much power the City of Seattle is willing to cede to the regional authority, because they're used to kind of doing their own thing, right? And so, I think there might be a little bit of resistance there. I also know, for example, that the Council has been very excited about tiny home villages for some time now. And the new CEO of the Regional Homelessness Authority is not so excited about tiny house villages. So you get these interesting kind of policy discussions and power dynamics that I don't think we know how they're going to play out yet.
[00:22:12] Crystal Fincher: Yeah. And speaking of things we don't know how they're going to play out yet, we might as well talk about redistricting. Redistricting. So this has been a bit of an eventful, not eventful week in the arena of redistricting. So if you haven't seen, and do not fault anyone for not having seen - this is not a fun thing to be following. But our state has a bipartisan Redistricting Commission that we put in charge of redrawing maps every 10 years in response to the changes in population and demographic compositions that we learn from the Census that is taken every 10 years. In Washington state, we have Democrats appoint two members and Republicans appoint two members. And then there is a different Chair of the organization - that is the Redistricting Commission.
They are responsible for collecting public comment and basically balancing the population and composition within districts, which involves adjusting boundaries of different districts to even out population - some districts grow a lot in size, some shrink. And so, from Congressional Districts on down, the boundaries have to be adjusted to balance out - to rebalance - population and representation to make sure everyone is being represented fairly and accurately throughout the state. This process has successfully produced maps every year that it has been in existence, which this current process has been in existence since 1983. Every 10 years they have successfully performed their jobs and produced maps, until the deadline this past Monday, which they missed. And they didn't just miss it, they missed it in such interesting, ridiculous, and we can plug in whatever adjective we want to use their way.
[00:24:19] Amy Sundberg: Shady. I would say it was kind of shady.
[00:24:23] Crystal Fincher: There was a lot shady about it, and likely straight up potentially illegal about how it happened. Because the deadline was Monday night. Now it is not at all uncommon for a commission to take to nearly the deadline, or any entity to take until nearly the deadline to complete their job. A lot of times a deadline is a helpful pressure point to help people who may be disagreeing negotiate and come to an agreement. And that clock ticking down is helpful in getting that done. However, as the deadline approached, there didn't seem to be any progress. And oddly and troublingly, as the deadline approached, in what was supposed to be a public meeting - because by law, these commissioners and these commission meetings have to be held in public. This is not like the Legislature - this is like most other bodies where their deliberations have to be held in public. And they actually are forbidden by law to meet in groups of more than two to prevent there being any meeting basically that is not in view of the public. However, leading up to this deadline, instead of meeting in view of the public, the commissioners retreated - they said - to meet in groups of two, and they were going to meet and come back and discuss publicly. And then they didn't come back. And then they didn't come back again. And then, the updates were non-updates and the meeting that was supposed to take place in public view did not. And then, there was an update that coming up to the midnight deadline on Monday, maybe there is a vote to be taken. There wasn't. And then, the word came that - they came back just in time to take the vote, to approve - it's still confusing what they did or did not approve and what timeline and this is part of the confusing part.
What was presented in public at the time - they said that they voted to approve a framework, just after the midnight deadline, I believe. But that framework did not have any maps attached to it. And so, this was a very confusing time, and it's not quite sure what was approved and they have not clarified much about their deliberations or what was approved. And then, the next day, late in the day, and this was well after the deadline, they published some maps that they said were what was approved in the framework. Both Congressional District and Legislative District maps, which a lot of people - I mean, the first reaction was just, for most people, well these maps are invalid. One, you missed the deadline to vote - that's kind of very cut and dry, that's actually a pretty black and white thing. They admitted they missed the deadline, there doesn't seem to be any disagreement that they missed the deadline. What they do seem to be saying is, "But we voted just after the deadline. And so we put so much work into it that maybe you should consider what we did."
However, the maps that they eventually - that the commission eventually published a day later after the deadline passed - it has issues. It has a number of issues, but I think a lot of people are really not even getting into those issues yet at this point in time, just because they missed the deadline and therefore - in a situation where it would've gone to the Legislature to be approved, now it is up to the Supreme Court. If you missed a deadline, it gets kicked over, Redistricting Commission is done. What they have done is basically all null and void because they did not produce what they were supposed to approve and produce in the timeline that they were supposed to do this. And this is prescribed by law, so it's not like someone can just decide to take a little bit more time. And in this process with the Supreme Court, they have until now - April 30th - to approve maps. So what seems pretty clear is that the Supreme Court has no obligation to consider anything that the Redistricting Commission has done. The challenge becomes that the Supreme Court is not a mapping body. This is not anything that is in their - it's not in their job description.
[00:29:09] Shannon Cheng: Yeah. And Crystal, isn't that April 30th deadline really problematic? Isn't filing week for a lot of these positions, that people need to know their districts for, the second week of May, usually?
[00:29:22] Crystal Fincher: It's so problematic. And that's such a good point. I mean, the reason why the deadline is in mid-November is because we actually moved it up from the end of December. We moved the deadline up because it was such a stretch to implement all of this and have people learn their new districts. And so we said, "Hey, we actually need more time to - once we decide what these maps are, everything that follows the new maps - need more time to implement it." So not having maps now and moving this deadline to April 30th does mean that some representatives do not know which district they are going to ultimately represent. Depending on which version of which map you look at, some representatives are in one district on some maps, they're in another district on another map. They maintain their incumbency according to some maps, they don't according to others. Different candidates who have run four different positions or are considering - are in one district according to some maps, another district according to others. So this uncertainty now goes until April 30th. The candidate filing deadline is May 20th. So there are less than three weeks, fewer than three weeks between the time districts become final and the time that people learn, not just whether if you're an incumbent, whether you're still in your district, but what the composition of your district is.
And we know that there are going to be several districts whose compositions meaningfully change. So you don't know what neighborhoods, what areas you're going to be representing or not. As someone who may potentially be a candidate, you don't know where you might end up running, who you might challenge. There may be one person who you're very interested in running against, there may be another person who you're not. This is all up in the air until April 30th. I hear a lot of people say, "Well, maybe the Supreme Court will get done early." And to that I say, what entity has ever gotten done early? There is nothing that has happened in the past that suggests that this would happen early. It could happen. The thing is this is actually a completely unprecedented process and we don't know what's going to happen, but trying to assume upfront that they're going to get done early does not seem like it's the most likely thing, given that, I mean, you have a commission whose job it was just to figure out these maps - who came in and it was on their job description, part of their job description, to get these maps done. They had process, they had staff, they had this whole thing. They were unable to get this process done by the deadline. I don't know why kicking it over to a body that doesn't have any of the preparation that this one had would make us think that they would get done faster. Certainly is possible but -
[00:32:16] Amy Sundberg: And weren't there also problems with a lot of the proposed maps in terms of the legality?So I mean, that becomes an issue as well.
[00:32:24] Crystal Fincher: Oh there are so many problems. Yeah. There have been several independent analyses, from Harvard to UCLA, I think the League of Women Voters - looked into several of these maps and several of them have pretty blatant Voting Rights Act violations. They appear to be unconstitutional, they appear to be illegal maps. That's certainly a major issue that had been talked about throughout this process. The alleged maps - it's hard to even say - this last map that was published after the deadline, which seems to have several issues even on top of the Voting Rights Act violations. Yeah, that's a problem. And so, the one thing I would say is I would assume, I would hope and I actually would assume from our Supreme Court, our Washington State Supreme Court, that they are interested in adhering to the Voting Rights Act, which would automatically mean, because of that would mean that some of the maps that have been published, that their maps would not look like those.
And so, there's going to be a question of where do they start? Because the process is not defined. There are some states who have gone through similar processes. Some would be useful to follow, others may not be good to follow - but that's all going to be determined. But really what we have now is we're in an unprecedented situation for our state. The Redistricting Commission did not complete their job by the time that was required, so the normal process that we are used to following is no longer the process that we're in. We're in a brand new process, we are going to see what happened. Because there is so much - I'm sitting here probably - I still don't get what happened on that Monday, and what they approved, and what they didn't approve, and what happened when. And I probably did a horrible job of explaining that - the reason why, is because we don't know. It is very confusing as to what happened. In fact, the Supreme Court has ordered the Chair of the Redistricting Commission to basically submit a sworn statement about what did happen because no one knows. We are supposed to know. It's supposed to be in public for deliberation. What was the timeline of the events? What happened? When did it happen? And that is due by this coming Monday, the 22nd? I think Monday is the 22nd. So we will hear the Redistricting Commission's sworn version of events and from there we'll see where it goes. But it seems pretty black and white from what they said before that they did not make the deadline for the map.
So that basically - question one, the most important question is, did you approve those maps in time by the deadline? They did not. I'm sure they will be like, "But it was only by a little bit." And the thing about when a deadline is prescribed by law - is when you miss it, it doesn't matter whether it's by two seconds or two days. It is missed. And so that's question one, which is why it is now in the hands of the Supreme Court. And we'll see where it goes from here. We will probably have other shows talking about this in more detail, but certainly as we get more information. But this is something to continue to pay attention to and certainly to make sure that you are engaging, especially as we have, these conversations about whether districts adhere - proposed districts - and that's adhere to the Voting Rights Act primarily.
And that's important for issues like in Central Washington, looking at places like Yakima - are there attempts, bad faith attempts really, made to dissect that community in a way that eliminates voting power, organizing power that would normally be there because of the population? Or are they looking at that and trying to dilute the power of specifically non-white populations in order to maintain electoral power? And this is the conversation that we see with gerrymandering in so many other states, right? And so we were trying to avoid that here. So we'll talk about this a lot more, but it's a mess.
[00:37:10] Amy Sundberg: I think too, that it bears repeating how shocking it is that we don't know what happened. And that it's now Friday and we still don't know what happened. And that these are meetings that are legally required to be within public view. And that all the commissioners felt emboldened - they felt just fine not having to be transparent.
[00:37:35] Crystal Fincher: Well, I will be careful in characterizing what all of the commissioners done - I mean, did. I don't know where all of the commissioners were, I don't know if a couple of them felt strongly about this and a couple others didn't. I don't know that, but I do know that the process overall was certainly not ideal. And even that meeting in pairs - it is also illegal if you meet in pairs and then have an intermediary relay information from one of those meetings in pairs to a member of the other pair. You can't pass information back and forth that derives from those smaller meetings, because that in effect is a meeting. That is also specifically illegal. So I think most people are going now - it is not believable to think that this process happened completely behind doors, behind closed doors, there was no agreement beforehand. You come back in time to take a vote, but no one talked to each other, even though we didn't see what you were doing and somehow came to an agreement. No one believes that.
[00:38:47] Amy Sundberg: No.
[00:38:48] Crystal Fincher: I think we're there. I don't believe that.
[00:38:54] Amy Sundberg: And I would say if you're appointed to be a commissioner, one of your tasks is to work towards transparency. So making sure the public does know what you're doing. And I mean, yes, maybe there are circumstances we don't know about, maybe you can just be swept along - but, I mean, transparency is part of what you should strive for.
[00:39:18] Crystal Fincher: Part of what we should strive for. And really that issue in itself, whether or not they violated Open Meetings Acts and whether or not they adhere to the law there, even if they would have voted in time, could invalidate that entire process. So there are just so many issues with how this process came to its non-conclusion conclusion, but we will get more information about what the commission says happened by Monday. And certainly we'll be talking about this next week too on Hacks & Wonks.
One last thing I wanted to talk about before we left was - we are approaching the deadline for applications to the Institute for a Democratic Future. What's the Institute for a Democratic Future, you ask - I'm glad you asked. It is a fantastic six-month fellowship where you spend about a week in a month immersing yourself in politics and policy on the ground throughout the state of Washington and there's even a trip to DC. But it is an excellent way to get an education on not only a range of policy and politics, but to see how the policy that is passed connects to real-world conditions on the ground for people in different circumstances and in different walks of life. So being in Eastern Washington, being in Central Washington and talking to farmers and talking to farm workers and talking to union leadership and talking to people who are doing environmental work and talking to business organizations and just the full range of people in communities. And how different legislation impacts them, how different challenges are presenting themselves, and what their feedback and perspective is on different things. And it's varied. And especially, I think most of the people who are listening to this podcast are in the King County area, how things look in rural communities is different. How life is experienced in rural and communities elsewhere is different. And it's important to understand how that manifests in order to create policy in a way that actually does help people.
This program is for people who are 39 or under. The deadline is approaching, coming up in about a week. So if this sounds like it's something interesting to you, I would highly encourage you - reach out to me on Twitter, I'm @finchfrii, send me a text message, email, send me a message to the website. I'll be happy to talk about it more with you, but this is actually how I got my start in politics. I had a career before I worked in politics - I was in corporate sales, but I knew that I wanted to make a change and do something different. I was pretty naive - I didn't know what jobs and stuff there were in politics, what options were. I had watched the West Wing and knew of those positions there, but really didn't understand the wide variety of positions in politics.
But also how that also works together with policy positions, advocacy positions, and there is a rich world that you can work in and contribute to. And it can be in a full-time paid capacity or not, but it's just really useful and helpful to be able to see how policy translates. What type of policies in the conversation, what different people from different areas are saying about their lives and what they're facing. And what is helping and what is not helping. And a lot of it will surprise you. A lot of it may not fit neatly into rhetoric that we're used to hearing. And that's really important to engage with and understand. So I highly encourage you to do that. If you're listening to this and you know me, there's a letter of recommendation required - talk to me. If you know me and we can do that, I'm happy to do that. I've done it before for people, but highly recommend this for anyone interested in being more engaged in the world of politics or policy or advocacy, it really is invaluable. You would not be hearing my voice on this podcast right now if it weren't for the Institute for a Democratic Future. I wouldn't be working in politics. It is just really important and helpful.
So if this sounds interesting to you or you think it would sound interesting to any others, you can go to democraticfuture.org. I'll also put that in the show notes so that you can read more about it. But it really is valuable. And for young leaders, young progressive leaders, age 21 to 39, and the program itself runs January through June. And there are 11 weekends between January and June plus a Washington, D.C. week. So give me a chat if this is interesting, but Institute for a Democratic Future is great. And it's also just a great network of people and really helpful and useful network of people to belong to, and you would be surprised how many people have been through this program and who are working there. It has been useful for a ton of us. So that's where I'm at on those.
And I thank you all for listening to Hacks & Wonks on today, November 19th, 2021. And thank you to the producer of Hacks & Wonks, Lisl Stadler, who is assisted regularly by Shannon Cheng and our wonderful co-host today - who, hey, Shannon Cheng, the Chair of People Power Washington-Police Accountability, as well as Amy Sundberg, author of Notes from the Emerald City and Co-Chair of the Seattle Committee of People Power Washington-Police Accountability. You can find Shannon on Twitter @drbestturtle, Amy Sundberg @amysundberg and you can find me @finchfrii. Now you can follow Hacks & Wonks on iTunes, Spotify or wherever else you get your podcasts - just type "Hacks & Wonks" in the search bar. 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 wherever you listening to Hacks & Wonks. You can also get a full transcript of this episode and links to the resources referenced in the show at officialhacksandwonks.com and in our episode notes.
Thanks for tuning in. We'll talk to you next time.