Mayor Murray issues statement on work of Income Inequality Advisory Committee

Mayor Murray today issued the following statement on the work of the Income Inequality Advisory Committee:

“We launched a process in December to begin to address in a meaningful and thoughtful way what President Obama has referred to as the ‘issue of our time’: income inequality.

Understanding the strong public support for raising Seattle’s minimum wage, our process brought to the table representatives of the employer, labor, worker and non-profit communities to craft a solution in a manner that could address the unique needs of each.

I want to acknowledge the strong commitment and tremendous, good-faith effort of the committee members over these past several months. We are very, very close to a deal that all stakeholders can agree with, but we are still not there yet.

Tomorrow at 1:15 p.m., I am prepared to announce a plan for how we raise the minimum wage in this city. Standing with me, I hope, will be members of my Income Inequality Advisory Committee. And it is my hope that it will be all the members of my advisory committee.

We may reach an agreement by tomorrow, we may not. But in either case, we will get to a good, thoughtful, meaningful solution that reflects the input and concerns of all who will be affected – which has been the goal of this process all along.

At some point, the interest in the process yields to an interest in the final product – and tomorrow we reach that point.”

City of Seattle releases progress report of key environmental goals

Move the Needle ReportSeattle Mayor Ed Murray today released Moving the Needle, an environmental progress report that pulls together Seattle’s key environmental goals and reports on their progress and achievements.

“Seattle has been an environmental leader for years, with many laudable environmental goals throughout the city’s offices and departments. Until now, these have all been tracked separately,” said Murray. “Moving the Needle presents the key goals and metrics and paints a single picture of how we are doing on the environmental commitments we’ve made over the years.”

Moving the Needle reports on 35 goals across seven areas: buildings and energy; transportation and land use; food; waste; water; trees and green space; and climate change. This report provides a comprehensive look across environmental sectors, and demonstrates how the goals work together to create a bold environmental vision for the Emerald City.

View the report here.

“Informed by Moving the Needle, I look forward to working with the community to identify where we are strong, where we can do better, and where there are real opportunities for innovation,” said Murray. “In the coming months I will convene environmental leaders and community partners to ensure the city’s environmental priorities reflect a strong commitment to equity, race, and social justice and I plan to put forward an environmental action agenda by Earth Day 2015.”

Moving the Needle will be updated biennially to track progress over time. The report was developed by the City’s Office of Sustainability and Environment, which works with City departments, community organizations, nonprofits, residents, and businesses to help Seattle achieve its environmental goals.

Mayor Murray commends Seattle City Councilmembers for their support of Seattle Park District

Mayor Murray today issued the following statement of gratitude to members of the Seattle City Council, following their passage of Murray’s Seattle Park District proposal out of committee:

“I want to thank my colleagues at the Seattle City Council for their support of the Seattle Park District proposal. Today’s committee vote takes us one step closer to placing a robust package on the ballot.

Seattle’s park system is a tremendous resource for the people of this great city and this funding plan will maintain and preserve our parks for years to come. Providing a dedicated and sustainable funding source for our parks is our best opportunity to take the park legacy that has been entrusted to us and pass it on to future generations to enjoy as we do today.”

The Full Council is expected to take final action on this proposal on Monday, April 28.

Happy Seattle Record Store Day!

Mayor Murray signed the following proclamation today declaring April 19th to be Seattle Record Store Day.

“I encourage everyone to support Seattle’s independent record stores and celebrate their ongoing contributions to our thriving music scene and its brilliant, talented musicians.”

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Nominations for the 2014 Mayor’s Arts Awards being accepted through May 15

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Nominations are now being accepted for the 2014 Mayor’s Arts Awards! More than 600 nominations were received last year.

The awards recognize the accomplishments of artists, arts and cultural organizations, and community members committed to enriching their communities through the arts. The six categories include:

  • Future Focus: For making a difference in arts education and youth work
  • Raising the Bar: Awarded for artistic excellence
  • Cultural Ambassador: Awarded for exemplary work across disciplines, as an artist and as an administrator, pushing the field forward from all sides
  • City of Creativity: Awarded for raising the profile of Seattle as a City of Creativity
  • Cultural Investment: Awarded for investment in our cultural community by an individual, funder, business, donor, or professional development/service organization
  • Social Justice: Awarded for deep and lasting impact on areas that matter, such as race and social justice and social equity

The nomination deadline is Thursday, May 15 at 5 p.m. and you can nominate an individual or organization for any of those categories on the Office of Arts & Culture’s website.

Murray to Council: ‘We can preserve the jewel that is our City’s parks system today’

Mayor Murray transmitted the following letter to City Council today to reinforce his vision for a Seattle Park District:

Dear Councilmembers:

First of all, thank you for your thoughtful consideration of the Seattle Park District proposal I transmitted to you in March. Through your leadership in creating the Parks Legacy Committee last May, you provided all of us and the people of Seattle a healthy dialogue around the future of our parks and recreation system. As you approach a final decision on the proposal we will send together to voters this summer, I wanted to take a moment to reinforce my vision and goals for creating the Seattle Park District.

With its many, many athletic fields, tennis courts, playgrounds and playfields, community centers, miles of shoreline and pedestrian and biking trails, I think we can all agree that Seattle’s park system is a tremendous resource for the people of this great city. Our parks are where we go to meet friends, play with our children, exercise, relax, play ball, or take a relaxing walk. And now is the time to take care of them. These widely treasured activities deserve a robust funding plan for the preservation of our parks that adheres to four simple principles:

  1. A dedicated, sustainable funding source. The fact is, Seattle does not have sufficient dedicated funding available to address our parks maintenance needs and our other priorities as a city. Prior levies, with their focus on new acquisitions, have left a maintenance backlog of $267 million across 300 different existing projects. We must address this backlog. That’s why I’ve proposed a Seattle parks district similar to what Pullman, Tacoma and a dozen or so other cities across Washington use successfully to ensure that their parks do not fall into neglect. I have heard concerns that a parks district would be unaccountable to the public, would not be transparent, or would siphon funds from the general fund. These are unfortunate myths: My proposal provides for citizen oversight and public accountability, requires a six-year spending plan and explicitly prohibits replacement of parks general fund dollars with park district funds. The City Council is elected by the people of Seattle to be responsible stewards of a $4.2 billion annual budget. I am confident that the Council should be entrusted with fiduciary responsibilities as the governing board for the Park District. Furthermore, I trust the people of Seattle to hold all of us as elected officials accountable for spending public funds wisely. A robust, dedicated, sustainable, funding source for our parks is our best opportunity to take the park legacy that has been entrusted to us and pass it on to future generations to enjoy as we do today.
  2. Fix it first. The expansion of the Seattle parks system has been a remarkable accomplishment, but it has run ahead of our ability to maintain it. And unless we can maintain our existing parks, our open spaces and community centers will become unsafe, unkempt or obsolete. That’s why over half of my proposal – 53 percent – invests in major maintenance, restoration or rehabilitation of existing facilities, which was represented in only 25 percent of the 2008 parks and green space levy, and was only 13 percent in the 2000 pro parks levy. Now is the time to focus on repairing, maintaining, and preserving the civic treasures that we have.
  3. Provide for existing demand for parks programming and services. People in Seattle love and use our parks. But we’ve significantly reduced hours at our community centers – leaving seniors, families and young people facing closed doors instead of the safe, welcoming centers we would like to provide. Programs for people with disabilities and for seniors have waiting lists of people in need we cannot serve. Nearly 20 percent of my proposal is dedicated to basic maintenance, operations and programs for children, people with disabilities and seniors – investments that were not included at all in the 2008 levy. We need to make sure that our parks and community centers are able to meet the demand for the great recreational programming they provide to their communities, including underserved populations – which my proposal does.
  4. Anticipate future demand. My proposal focuses on the preservation of our parks and fixing what we have, but the reality is, we cannot ignore the need for inevitable growth and expansion. We purchased 14 sites for parks in the 2008 levy, but we have never developed those parks; my proposal provides funding to finally do so. Also, I am very interested in innovative and new models for future parks activation and partnership in the urban core. My proposal recognizes these opportunities and 25 percent of my overall package provides funding that can act as seed dollars to engage potential partners and to make investments that anticipate future demand for our parks system. In addition, I made it a priority to dedicate funding for Community Center Rehabilitation and Development. The centers are often referred to as our “community living rooms.” We still have many community centers in need of major renovation. By creating this fund, we also preserve the flexibility to examine and potentially build new centers in neighborhoods where we experience growth.

We can preserve the jewel that is our City’s parks system today – and we can provide robust, dedicated and sustainable funding to maintain this jewel over the long term. I am very much looking forward to the proposal you send to me in the coming days.

Sincerely,
Mayor Edward B. Murray
City of Seattle

Mayor talks with Senior Zoo Walkers about Parks funding and pays a social visit to the penguin exhibit

The Mayor met today with the Senior Zoo Walkers, a group of dedicated older adults spanning in age from 55- to 90-years-old who meet up every Tuesday and Thursday to stretch together, walk the zoo paths, and socialize. They chatted with the Mayor about his proposed Legacy Funding Plan for parks and had questions about his plans to improve downtown safety and bicycle safety on city streets.

Senior Zoo Walkers is a joint program between the Woodland Park Zoo, Group Health Cooperative, and the Seattle Parks and Recreation Sound Steps walking program. It attracts between 40 to 100 walkers every session and has been in place at the zoo since 1990. Many participants have been in the program for a decade or more and are passionate about the zoo and the well-being of its animals.

Mayor meets with the Woodland Park Zoo's Senior Zoo Walkers

Mayor meets with the Woodland Park Zoo's Senior Zoo Walkers

Mayor meets with the Woodland Park Zoo's Senior Zoo Walkers

The Mayor also stopped by the zoo’s Humboldt Penguin exhibit to learn more about the animals, their habitat, and the care they receive. Lead zookeeper John Samaras introduced the Mayor and a few members of his staff to several penguins, including a pushy penguin named Fiona, a funny little waddler named Cortez, and a precious newborn chick that hatched just this week!

Mayor Murray meets the Woodland Park Zoo's penguins

Mayor Murray meets the Woodland Park Zoo's penguins

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Mayor Murray meets the Woodland Park Zoo's penguins

Mayor Murray meets the Woodland Park Zoo's penguins

Mayor Murray meets the Woodland Park Zoo's penguins

Murray: ‘Police reform is the single most important issue facing my administration’

Mayor Murray released the following statement today:

“Police reform is the single most important issue facing my administration, and it is the issue that receives my most serious and sustained attention as mayor.

Soon, I will be selecting the next permanent chief of police to drive the necessary cultural change that both members of the community and the members of the police force deserve and are eager to see occur inside the Seattle Police Department (SPD).

Seattle’s next chief must be able to transcend the divisions that exist within our community, and between our department and the community, but also the unfortunate divisions that exist within the department itself. Reform is not about picking one group or faction at SPD over others. In fact, it’s these kinds of entrenched turf wars between factions in the upper ranks of the department that have impeded true reform for years.

The next chief will have my support to make any changes he or she deems necessary to achieve true cultural reform within the department. Nothing will be protected as sacred in our pursuit of reform.

But, along with his warning that compliance with the federal court order has been moving at a “glacial pace” over the past year, U.S. District Judge James Robart recently said progress cannot wait for a new chief to arrive. It was my intent from the very beginning of my administration to act quickly on reform, which is why, based on conversations with the federal monitor and others after I was elected, I made the decision to appoint a new interim chief once I assumed office.

Harry Bailey was recommended to me by my transition team as someone who could serve as chief of police on a temporary basis while my administration conducts a national search for a transformational, permanent chief. Any suggestions that his temporary appointment was made for reasons other than his experience, qualifications and commitment to my vision of reform – as well as his assurances that he would not seek the permanent position – are inaccurate.

I tasked Interim Chief Bailey with re-evaluating SPD’s organization structure to ensure greater compliance with the federal court. He responded by quickly establishing a five-unit compliance bureau under the authority of an assistant chief to address the main elements of compliance with the court order. This reflects an unprecedented commitment to reform within SPD; the next chief must build upon this important structural commitment to make continued and improved progress on reform.

The next chief must also be committed to significantly improving public accountability and building public trust. The mistakes my administration made in our first weeks regarding the disciplinary process are well-documented by now, and I have accepted responsibility and apologized for them. They were the result of a new administration still transitioning into office, and nothing more. But these early stumbles have highlighted for me what has been apparent to others for some time about the SPD disciplinary process.

I look forward to acting on recommendations from the technical experts at the Community Police Commission, the auditor and the director of the Office of Police Accountability, and my own expert adviser on police discipline to improve the fairness, timeliness and transparency of this process.

We have far to go before we achieve full reform.  Despite the great work of the vast majority of our officers, the challenges at SPD are deep-seated, and change will not come easily. Fundamental change at the Seattle Police Department is the necessary goal of the federal court order, and I will remain committed to achieving it every day that I am mayor.

But beyond compliance with the court, it is the aspirational goal of my administration to become a model of urban policing for the nation. We must ensure that our officers are properly equipped to solve problems, provide compassionate and Constitutional policing, and keep every neighborhood of Seattle safe.

I pledge to continue working collaboratively and constructively with the federal monitor, the federal court, the U.S. Department of Justice – including the U.S. Attorney General – the City Attorney, City Council and our community partners to achieve these important, critical objectives.”

Photos from Saturday’s Bell Street Park opening celebration

Bell Street Park opening

On Saturday, Mayor Murray cut the ceremonial ribbon at the opening of Bell Street Park, a multi-use public right of way on Bell Street from 1st through 5th Avenues. The celebration included a Lion Dance from Northwest Kung Fu and Fitness, a performance from local band The Royal We, lawn games provided by Target, and lots of local food truck favorites.

The Bell Street Park design converted one traffic lane and reconfigured parking to create a park-like corridor through the heart of Belltown. The four block area was improved with landscaping, better lighting and more open space. The continuous level pavement encourages pedestrians, cyclists and automobiles to share the road.

The Parks and Green Spaces Levy provided $5 million to plan, design and construct Bell Street Park. The artwork, by nationally recognized artist Sheila Klein, was commissioned with Parks and Green Spaces Levy 1% for Art funds.

Bell Street Park opening

Bell Street Park opening

Bell Street Park opening