Mayor Murray Pardons Tofurky and Challenges City Council to Food Drive

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray Pardons Tofurky

Today Mayor Murray pardoned Braeburn the Tofurky and challenged the Seattle City Council to a food drive.

“I, Mayor Murray, pardon Braeburn the Tofurky,” the mayor proclaimed in the atrium of Seattle City Hall.

Braeburn the Tofurky will live out its natural life at the Rainier Valley Food Bank, the beneficiary of the food drive between Seattle City Council and the Mayor’s Office. Braeburn will be joined by his understudy, Honeycrisp.

The Mayor’s and City Council’s offices have until December 12, 2014 to collect non-perishable donations.  The team that collects the most food shall have doughnuts delivered by the losing team by either Mayor Murray or Council President Tim Burgess.

Braeburn and Honeycrisp were named after popular Washington State apples.

 

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Statement on President’s immigration announcement

Mayor Murray released the following statement tonight:

“Today we are passing a milestone on the road to justice. It’s a great day to be an American.

President Obama is advancing a righteous cause by giving millions of undocumented immigrants the right to work. We will defend the President’s actions against those who would seek to undo them.

This moment is about promises to keep, not promises kept. This is the beginning, not the end. We must protect farmworkers who labor in the field so that we may put food on our tables. We must protect the parents of Dreamers who work two or three jobs to put their kids through college. And we must work to ensure that immigrants have access to health care.

This journey will not be complete until Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform. We must reunite families who have been torn apart. We must welcome all immigrants in our community who want to be a part of the fabric of American life. When we do this, we will act on our deepest values.”

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Mayor Ed Murray: Zoo is Making the Right Decision to Find a New Home for the Elephants

Mayor Ed Murray released the following statement about the Woodland Park Zoo’s decision to find a new home for the elephants:

The zoo board is making the right decision to find a new home for Woodland Park’s elephants, one with more habitat and an interesting social environment. I know this was not an easy decision for the zoo’s senior leaders and the dedicated staff who care for these animals. My concern remains that we must find the best possible facility for Chai and Bamboo, and I believe this decision is a step in the right direction.

 

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Seattle charts path to September launch of Preschool Program

Seattle Preschool Program implementation

Mayor Murray, joined by Councilmember Tim Burgess and Superintendent Larry Nyland, today announced the path forward for Seattle’s new voter-approved public preschool program. A blueprint for implementing the program will be delivered to the City Council by February 23rd, and the first cohort of three- and four-year-olds will enter classrooms in September.

“Voters recognized that a stronger educational system in Seattle depends on quality preschool that prepares children for success in elementary school,” said Murray. “The program we’re developing will support equity across the city and set its sights on reducing the dramatic opportunity gap between students of color and white kids that persists in Seattle schools.”

The Seattle Preschool Program will be developed using best educational practices. Research shows that age appropriate preschool leads to better outcomes in 4th grade reading and in high school graduation rates. In one study, Chicago children who attended a pre-k program were 29 percent more likely to graduate from high school than their peers who did not have quality preschool.

“This high-quality program will deliver small class sizes; play-based, research-based and age-appropriate instruction; and more support, training and compensation for preschool teachers,” said Council President Tim Burgess. “We focus on quality because only quality preschool delivers long-term results for all our littlest learners.”

A dramatic opportunity gap between white students and students of color persists in Seattle – a 30% gap in reading achievement and 36% gap in math, according to statistics released by Seattle Public Schools this week. African-American students continue to be expelled or suspended at four times the rate of white and Asian students. And Native American kids are nearly three times as likely to be enrolled in special education services.

The Seattle Preschool Program will be developed in collaboration with Seattle Public Schools. The aim is to create a smooth transition from preschool to elementary, as teachers communicate about children’s progress and needs as they transition to kindergarten.

“We look forward to working with our partners from the City of Seattle to increase access to quality preschool programs,” said Dr. Larry Nyland, Seattle Public Schools interim superintendent. “The city’s collaborative approach with the District and community is appreciated as we support school readiness with our youngest learners.”

Today, Murray named Erin Okuno, Executive Director, Southeast Seattle Education Coalition, and Kevin Washington, Chair of the Board of Directors, Thrive By Five, as co-chairs of an advisory group that will help develop the program. The group will be made up of pre-school educators, parents, K-12 and higher education representatives, labor and community leaders to be named in coming days.

Seattle residents are invited to six meetings to provide feedback on several elements of the program:

Family Engagement
Sat, Nov. 22, 2014 – 10am to 12:30pm
Langston Hughes
104 17th Ave S, Seattle
Curriculum
Sat, Dec. 6, 2014 – 10am to 12:30pm
Youngstown
4408 Delridge Way SW, Seattle
Dual Language Programs
Sat, Nov. 22, 2014 – 2pm to 4:30pm
Langston Hughes
104 17th Ave S, Seattle
Teacher Training & Coaching
Sat, Dec. 6, 2014 – 2pm to 4:30pm
Youngstown
4408 Delridge Way SW, Seattle
Teacher Pathways to Certification
Tue, Dec. 2, 2014 – 6pm to 8:30pm
New Holly
7054 32nd Ave S, Seattle
Provider Contracting & Enrollment
Wed, Dec. 10, 2014 – 3pm to 5:30pm
Phinney Center
6532 Phinney Ave N, Seattle

For more information, visit www.seattle.gov/education.

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Hawthorne Elementary School cuts the ribbon on a new library makeover

Hawthorne Elementary School library makeover

Thanks to volunteers from the Target Corporation and The Heart of America Foundation, Seattle’s own Hawthorne Elementary School received a beautiful new library makeover today. The school’s Gloria Jean Warren Memorial Library received new furniture, new paint, 2,000 new books to line the shelves and several iPads.

Fourth and fifth graders from the school helped design the new look and were the first to enjoy all of the amenities following a ceremonial ribbon cutting with Mayor Murray, Seattle Public Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland and Hawthorne Elementary School Principal Sandra Scott.

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Mayor Murray announces symposium on medical marijuana, law enforcement

Medical Marijuana SymposiumRegulation of medical marijuana businesses in Seattle and in jurisdictions across the state remains an unsettled question, generating increasing fears among patients and business owners about the potential for stepped-up federal law enforcement.

The City of Seattle will hold a public symposium on Nov. 20 at City Hall for those concerned about access to safe medical marijuana and the location of marijuana-related businesses in the city.

Mayor Ed Murray has been working with community interests and the City Council on legislation to increase protections for medical marijuana patients and establish a common-sense regulatory framework to govern where and how these businesses operate in Seattle. The mayor plans to transmit a draft ordinance to the council by the end of the year.

“We are still looking to Olympia to enact broad medical marijuana reform next session, but we need to take action here in Seattle to address immediate concerns of patients, businesses and neighbors,” said Murray. “Even if the state acts, we know implementation could stretch into 2016. We don’t want patients and businesses waiting in limbo, even as they face increasing legal risks.”

Next week’s symposium will feature panel discussions on a range of issues where medical marijuana businesses face a much more uncertain regulatory landscape than recreational marijuana operations governed by the state’s Liquor Control Board, including:

  • Testing of marijuana products for purity and strength
  • Best practices for manufacturing marijuana-infused products
  • Packaging and labeling requirements
  • The location of dispensaries and collective gardens

The event will also feature a broader discussion of the disproportionate impact that marijuana criminal statutes and law enforcement have on youth and people of color.

The panels will feature patient advocates and medical providers, marijuana business representatives, testing providers, community representatives and city agency leaders. The symposium will be convened by Patricia Lally, Director of the Office of Civil Rights, who will offer introductory remarks.

The symposium will be held in the Bertha Knight Landes Room at City Hall on Thursday, Nov. 20 from 5 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. The public are encouraged to attend and ask questions of the panelists. Those unable to attend may submit questions through the Mayor’s website: www.seattle.gov/mayor.

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Murray and community leaders announce police accountability reforms

Police Accountability Reforms

Seattle Police Accountability & Civilian OversightStanding with City Council President Tim Burgess, Councilmember Bruce Harrell, Chief of Police Kathleen O’Toole, police accountability experts and community leaders, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray today announced a package of significant reforms to the City’s police discipline and accountability system.

“Our police accountability system has over the years become complicated and confusing to the public,” said Murray. “Today, we are announcing major reforms to bring greater fairness, independence and transparency to the police discipline and accountability system, and to rebuild public trust.”

Murray said that the proposed reforms would strengthen and streamline the accountability process while enhancing civilian oversight, including:

  • Making the Community Police Commission (CPC) the permanent civilian oversight body for police accountability in the City;
  • Consolidating the Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) case file review function in the OPA Auditor, and incorporating other functions of the OPA Review Board into the CPC;
  • Strengthening the independence of the OPA; and
  • Implementing a large number of recommendations offered by CPC earlier this year to maximize transparency and public trust.

Of the 55 recommendations for reform offered by the CPC, almost two-thirds have either already been implemented or are in the process of being implemented, according to Murray.

Murray said his office will send legislation to the City Council for its consideration in early 2015, which is also when the City will be entering into labor negotiations with the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild and the Seattle Police Management Association.

“I intend for the City to work with unions in the negotiation process to achieve substantial improvements of our accountability system,” said Murray. “Those discussions will use as a starting point many of the recommendations made by my special advisor Dr. Bernard Melekian, the OPA Auditor and the Community Police Commission.”

“A stronger and more transparent accountability system will support our officers and improve public safety in our city,” said Council President Tim Burgess. “But along with a systems change, the culture of accountability within the police department must also change. The women and men of the police department will thrive in a culture that properly rewards them for excellence and fairly holds them accountable when they can do better.”

“A good accountability system is one that is trusted by the public. The disciplinary review process should be straightforward, transparent, timely, and lead to better training for officers,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee. “I applaud the Mayor for committing resources to revamp the system and proposing these reform recommendations. The Public Safety Committee will go through a diligent review of the proposal to ensure this is the best police accountability system moving forward and is supported by the community.”

“The Seattle Police Department is committed to reform, accountability and using best practices in policing,” said Chief O’Toole. “We support these proposed changes as another step toward rebuilding public trust.”

Murray noted that the federal monitoring team characterized the reform recommendations as “excellent progress on implementing reform.”

The reform recommendations can be read in full here.

Press conference video

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Murray announces funding for Duwamish River community projects

Mayor Murray today announced $250,000 in awards for nine local micro-projects along the Duwamish River as a result of the Duwamish River Opportunity Fund. The projects, while small in scale, will work to advance the environmental quality of the area and public health of people living near the river.

“The City of Seattle is honored to support these community-based projects,” said Murray. “This funding will benefit the people and businesses along the Duwamish River. We selected projects that support the quality of life in neighborhoods affected by the cleanup.”

The awards are:

  • $15,000 to the South Park Area Redevelopment Committee and South Park Senior Citizens to develop more stable food sources for the Senior Center Meal Program.
  • $21,000 to Duwamish Tribal Services to educate tribal members on harvesting, preparation and cultural practices surrounding traditional foods.
  • $10,000 to the Duwamish Rowing Club to support opportunities to make rowing on the Duwamish River a part of a healthy lifestyle.
  • $39,000 to Urban Systems Design to implement a job training program that increases green infrastructure and open spaces in the Duwamish Valley.
  • $29,000 to Just Health Action to work with Vietnamese fishers on alternatives to fishing in the Duwamish River that supports food security and their spiritual and cultural beliefs.
  • $12,500 to Feet First to work with community members on improving access for pedestrians in neighborhoods near the river.
  • $61,500 to the Washington State Dept. of Veterans Affairs for a tree-planting pilot project that will support jobs for veterans and increase tree canopy along the river.
  • $22,000 to the Georgetown Arts & Cultural Center to establish a community garden that will improve access to fresh and healthy food.
  • $40,000 to the Friends of 8th Avenue South Trail to improve safety and connectivity of the Duwamish Bikeway.

A review team representing neighborhoods along the Duwamish River, as well as public health and environmental advocates, scored 16 submitted projects seeking more than $378,000 from the Duwamish River Opportunity Fund.

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