Mayor seeks to prioritize area hires for city construction projects

Mayor Murray today proposed legislation to the Seattle City Council that would establish a priority hire program for City public works construction projects of $5 million or more.

The goal of the legislation is to improve access to construction employment and improve training programs for workers in need of family-wage jobs, while minimizing increased costs on City projects. The proposed ordinance would prioritize the hiring of residents that live in economically distressed areas, particularly in Seattle and King County.

“We must do more to bring underrepresented workers into construction careers and allow them access to public works projects funded by the City of Seattle,” said Murray. “We are making much needed investments in City infrastructure, but we must do more to prioritize construction career opportunities for area workers seeking to build their skills.”

Currently, only six percent of workers on City construction projects live in Seattle and only 25 percent live in King County.

Residents of economically distressed areas are even less likely to work on City projects. Only five percent of construction workers contributing to City projects live in the economically disadvantaged areas of Seattle and only nine percent live in King County’s economically disadvantaged areas.

Around one-quarter of all hours worked on City construction projects are provided by members of racial minority groups. Only nine percent of apprentice and four percent of journey-level hours worked were provided by women.

The proposal would use poverty levels, concentrated unemployment and gaps in educational attainment to identify economically distressed communities by zip code, with the aspirational goal of increasing construction career opportunities for women and racial minorities.

The legislation also increases existing requirements for contractors to hire apprentices and introduces requirements for hiring of graduates from local pre-apprentice institutions. The legislation directs the Department of Finance and Administrative Services to support pre-apprentice and apprentice programs in ways that may increase graduation rates and worker retention, including concentrated recruitment to Seattle and King County workers, scholarships for tuition, boots, and tools, and providing classes.

The legislation also directs the City’s Department of Finance and Administrative Services to execute a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) for projects meeting the $5 million threshold for construction costs. PLAs provide a means for unions and union contractors to meet priority hire objectives. PLAs will also ensure that workers and contractors have access to dispute resolution resources and clear rules to help avoid the risk of labor stoppages and/or shortages.

The City piloted the use of a PLA for the Seawall project, and so far has surpassed the traditional performance for hiring of local residents (43 percent of the hours served), women (15 percent of the hours served), people of color (30 percent of the hours served), and those from distressed neighborhoods in Seattle and King County (21 percent).

The goal of the new law is to give access to careers in construction – from pre-apprentice, to apprentice and journey-level worker training. The use of PLAs ensures that hires through the program would have access to union apprenticeships, which cover 45 occupations in 19 construction trades.

The mayor’s proposal is a result of recommendations by the Construction Careers Advisory Committee, which included contractors, labor representatives, training providers and community advocates.  The group was established by the Mayor and City Council in 2013 to make recommendations based on their review of the demographic profile of city construction workers, the construction labor market, the unavailability of a labor force to meet the demand, and current best practices in linking career development and municipal public works construction.

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New protected bike lane triples bike riding on Second Avenue; nearly 1,100 cyclists daily using new facility

2nd Avenue Bike LaneThe Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) today released data for the new Second Avenue Protected Bike Lane that shows bicycle ridership has tripled due to the new facility. With the conversion of the former one-way bike lane to a two-way, protected bike lane, an average of 1,099 bicyclists a day used the new lane on September 9, 10 and 11 according to electronic counters. This is three times the daily number of cyclists that had previously used the former one-way bike lane.

“I am pleased that the new Second Avenue bike lane is addressing Seattle’s need for a safer, more predictable route through downtown,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “These changes help enhance safety for everyone and make Seattle better prepared for the launch of Pronto! Cycle Share in October.”

Installed by SDOT, the facility opened Monday, September 8 with new pavement markings for two-way bike traffic, green pavement markings where turning cars cross the bike lane, separate traffic signals for bicyclists and motorists turning left, and plastic posts separating the bike lane from the left turn/parking lane.

SDOT and the Cascade Bicycle Club teamed up for an education/outreach campaign, and staff was positioned at left turn locations to remind motorists and bicyclists to observe the signals. Based upon feedback obtained during the initial few days, SDOT made additional changes on September 11 to reduce confusion.  “No turn on red” signs replaced “turn on green arrow only” signs and a green straight arrow replaced the solid green circle light. After these changes, an observation of 52 vehicles on Second Avenue at Spring Street revealed that only two drivers made an illegal left turn when their left turn arrow was red, a 96.2 percent compliance rate.

“A better organized Second Avenue means a more predictable roadway for cyclists, drivers and pedestrians, and makes it safer for all users,” said SDOT Direct Scott Kubly. “Signals and signs make the rules of the road more clear.”

Since the bicycle lanes opened, travel times for drivers on Second Avenue have been better than originally forecasted. On the first day of the bike lane’s operation, it took drivers approximately one minute longer to travel the 0.71 miles on Second Avenue than before the conversion. With numerous events occurring that first week, to include opening day of the National Football League season at CenturyLink Field, engineers expect travel times to decrease further as drivers become accustomed to the new roadway configuration.

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Neighbors invited to Capitol Hill ‘Find It, Fix It’ Community Walk

Find It Fix It Community Walk

Mayor Murray’s ‘Find It, Fix It’ Community Walk, focused on several crime hotspots, makes its way to Seattle’s Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Sept. 17. This is the eighth walk hosted by the mayor in neighborhoods around the city.

At the events, community residents, police, and city officials walk together to identify physical disorder and solve it. As a result of these walks, Seattle City Light, the Seattle Department of Transportation, the Department of Planning and Development, and Seattle Public Utilities have worked – and continue to work – to make improvements in Seattle’s neighborhoods. Watch videos, view photos and read actions taken as a result of these walks at: http://murray.seattle.gov/finditfixit

Capitol Hill Find It, Fix It Community Walk:
Wednesday, Sept. 17, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
E. Olive St. and 11th Ave.
Meet at Cal Anderson Park Shelterhouse (Map)

6:30 – 6:45 p.m.

Short program featuring Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle Chief of Police Kathleen O’Toole and department representatives.

6:45 – 8:00 p.m.

Walk commences along the following route:

  • East on E. Olive St.
  • South on 12th Ave.
  • West on E. Pike St.
  • North on Broadway
  • East on E. Howell St.

8:00 p.m.

Walk concludes and department representatives are available for follow-up questions.

For more information on Murray’s public safety strategy for Seattle, visit http://www.seattle.gov/mayor/public-safety-strategy-for-seattle.

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Murray on oil trains: ‘More must be done to reduce the chance of disaster’

Last year, U.S. railroads moved 11 times more crude oil than all the oil moved by trains from 2005 to 2009. As oil train traffic has increased, so have associated tragedies, with stories of spilled crude and fiery explosions spanning the continent. These trains typically carry 100 tank cars — each carry about 29,000 gallons — and they extend 1 to 1.5 miles.

Yet, virtually every day, trains run across and under Seattle’s city streets. Mayor Murray strongly believes the City of Seattle must do everything we can to reduce the risks of catastrophic events. Recently, the Mayor hosted a productive meeting with Matt Rose, BNSF’s Executive Chairman. The following letter is a summary of that meeting.

Seattle is asking BNSF to help make Seattle safer:

BNSF Letter

What the City is doing to make Seattle safer:

Tactical planning: The Seattle Fire Department, in cooperation with BNSF, has traveled the rail corridor from Everett to Tukwila and developed three distinct response zones based on topography, access and particular conditions along the rail corridor through Seattle.

Incident preparedness: The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) would activate to coordinate unity of citywide efforts focused on a set of objectives based on these priorities:

  • Life safety
  • Incident stabilization
  • Property conservation
  • Environmental protection

Emergency response and recovery planning: EOC activities would include public warnings, stakeholder updates, provisions of logistical resources needed by field crews, coordination of multi-agency plans of action, resolution of any policy issues, activation of any necessary mutual aid agreements, evacuation and/or sheltering of displaced populations, coordination with hospitals and Public Health, and more.

Seattle Fire has developed specific tactical considerations for this type of incident and sends their hazardous materials technicians to specialized oil train response training.

Seattle Fire Department and the Office of Emergency Management will appear before Councilmember Mike O’Brien’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee on Tuesday, September 16th at 2 p.m. to discuss the City’s disaster preparedness plans.

What the City is asking our partners to do to make Seattle safer:

City representatives are involved with the Washington State Department of Ecology’s study on Marine and Rail Oil Transportation to analyze the risks to public health and safety, and the environmental impacts associated with the transport of oil in Washington state.

At the federal level, the City plans to comment on proposed US Department of Transportation (USDOT) rules that address new requirements for oil spill response plans and rail operations and equipment. Separately, Mayor Murray and members of City Council have written letters to support the USDOT emergency order prohibiting the shipment of Bakken oil in legacy tank cars, which are more susceptible to puncture and explosion.

Washington’s congressional delegation has also made oil train safety a priority and continues to work with Seattle and the region to find ways to protect our citizens, resources and property.

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Mayor Murray, Google surprise Highland Park Elementary with fully funded classroom supply requests

Mayor Murray and Google make a surprise visit to Highland Park Elementary

Mayor Murray joined representatives from Google today to announce that the company has fully funded classroom requests from every teacher in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties on the education crowd funding site DonorsChoose.org. Google donated $338,000 for 388 projects resulting in 295 teachers receiving materials for over 36,000 students.

“There’s no better way to start off the school year than with this surprise funding for our local teachers. This generous donation to our classrooms is greatly appreciated,” said Murray, who made the surprise announcement in front of teachers at Highland Park Elementary School.

On the DonorsChoose.org website, teachers post projects requesting materials they need for their classrooms, and donors support the projects that inspire them. Requests from the Puget Sound area ranged from paper, pencils, and books to laptops, musical instruments, and microscopes. Among the projects funded this morning were laptops and a tablet for kindergarten students at Highland Park Elementary, a new set of ukuleles for Springbrook Elementary School in Kent and mapmaking materials for Lowell Elementary in Everett.

Over the past few months, Google has announced similar “flash funding” campaigns in San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Austin, Kansas City, and Los Angeles.

Video from the surprise announcement

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Mayor proposes new Office of Labor Standards for education, enforcement on city wage and benefit rules

Mayor Murray announces Office of Labor Standards

Seattle continues to capture the nation’s attention with its progressive policies on wages and benefits. Now Mayor Ed Murray is proposing an expanded proactive effort to educate workers and businesses on their rights and responsibilities under the law, as well as a centralized approach to investigate and enforce the City’s higher minimum wage, paid sick leave and other worker protections.

“Taken together, these remarkable advancements are a statement about Seattle’s leadership role on these issues,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Now we must educate our workers and businesses on how to comply with these new workplace standards. And when necessary, we must be ready to investigate complaints and enforce the law.”

The mayor’s proposal announced today includes the establishment of the Office of Labor Standards, which will provide a one-stop shop for workers and businesses seeking information on implementing the new requirements. The office will focus in the near term on educating the community on the new minimum wage rules. It will work with community based organizations to help reach lower-income and immigrant populations who are most vulnerable to violations.

“Passing fair labor standard laws is only half the solution to improving the working conditions of employees in Seattle; a city-designated office tasked with educating the public and enforcing the law is the other half,” said Councilmember Nick Licata. “I look forward to working with the Mayor, my Council colleagues and the broader community to see that one is established, and effective in its mission.”

The new office will build on the current work by the Seattle Office for Civil Rights, and will be housed in that agency. In the past year, the Office for Civil Rights has resolved 207 of 237 enforcement actions stemming from violations of the Paid Sick and Safe Time and the Job Assistance Ordinance. So far this year, the Office for Civil Rights has provided free technical assistance to 487 employers, and spoke with 227 employees about possible labor standards violations.

Seattle adopted the Paid Sick and Safe Time ordinance in 2011, followed in 2013 by the Job Assistance Ordinance that limits the use of arrest and conviction records in hiring decisions. In June, Seattle adopted the highest minimum wage in the country, which begins to phase in $15 an hour starting in April 2015.

Mayor Murray today proposed an ordinance that would authorize the new Office of Labor Standards to investigate and pursue administrative enforcement actions when wage-theft complaints are made by workers, with the aim of restoring any back wages and benefits they earned but were unpaid.  This would serve as an additional tool to the criminal wage-theft law passed by Seattle City Council in 2011.

The mayor’s Office of Labor Standards proposal was developed with input from his Labor Standards Advisory Group made up of representatives from business associations, labor unions and advocates, and community groups from across the city. The group has been meeting for months to provide recommendations that were vital to shaping this proposal.

“Every worker is entitled to be paid for the work that they do,” said Teresa Mosqueda, Government Affairs Director, Washington State Labor Council. “The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO applauds the creation of a new cabinet-level Office of Labor Standards that has the authority and resources to make sure that labor standards are enforced and values the role of community organizations in educating workers about their rights.”

“This is an important issue,” said George Allen, Sr. Vice President, Seattle Chamber of Commerce. “The process allowed the advisory group to arrive at recommendations that strike a good balance between the needs of Seattle’s employers and employees. This is a new way of decision-making and it works.”

“The new Office of Labor Standards is a key element in Seattle’s exciting progress to protect worker rights,” said Dave Freiboth, Executive Secretary, M.L. King County Labor Council. “This effort complements the significant work already accomplished providing for paid sick leave and cracking down on wage theft. Seattle truly represents ‘best practices’ in terms of employment conditions for working families.”

“The Greater Seattle Business Association and allied businesses were grateful for the opportunity to help shape how the City will implement and enforce its labor standards ordinances,” said Mona Smith, Public Affairs Chair of GSBA. “We support the Mayor’s choice to establish an Office of Labor Standards within the Office of Civil Rights. GSBA’s experience with the Office of Civil Rights implementation of the paid sick and safe leave and job assistance ordinances has been positive and our collaborative engagement with OCR on other labor standard issues has benefited our small business and LGBT members. We have every confidence that with Mayor Murray’s leadership this will continue.”

The Office of Labor Standards would have a budget of $511,000 in 2015 and $660,000 in 2016. The director of the office will report to the mayor. By 2016, the office will house 7 employees. There will be 5.5 new positions in addition to the 1.5 positions currently working on these issues at the Office of Civil Rights.  The new office will also receive administrative and policy support from the Office of Civil Rights. Funding for the office would come from the City’s general fund.

The mayor’s proposal will now go to the Seattle City Council as part of the budget he will submit on Sept. 22nd.

Video from press conference

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Murray announces $3.3 million for new officers and $2.75 million for human services, including $1.5 million for more homelessness services

Public Safety press conference

Mayor Murray announced that his 2015-16 budget to be formally proposed on Sept. 22 will make new investments in public safety and the safety net, and today provided detail for his plans to fund best practices both in the police department and in homelessness services.

“This administration will use the budget process to drive more transparency and innovation in City government, as well as better organization and performance,” said Murray. “Public safety is our number one priority, and my budget for the police department reflects these basic budgeting principles by investing in best management practices, better use of data and more effective use of resources to get better outcomes.”

Murray’s 2015-16 budget for the Seattle Police Department will propose funding more civilian expertise, including a civilian Chief Operating Officer and a civilian Chief Information Officer for improved operations and systems management and innovation. The COO has been hired, and has already implemented CompStat, the crime and disorder data tracking and analysis method made famous by Commissioner William Bratton in New York City in the 1990s, where it was credited with reducing crime by 60 percent.

“CompStat will take the police department to the next level in observing, mapping and tracking patterns of crime and disorder, and in mobilizing, analyzing and evaluating officer response,” said Murray. “It is a major reform that I believe is the key to our future success in crime prevention, in efficient and effective deployment of SPD resources, and in police accountability.”

CompStat will be used in conjunction with the “micro-policing plans” that Chief Kathy O’Toole will deliver and make publicly available by the end of 2014, Murray said. The plans will reflect the specific needs and circumstances of each of the unique neighborhoods of the city, and are intended to reconnect officers with the communities they serve. CompStat will provide timely and accurate data to inform an ever-evolving patrol strategy, focusing resources on areas of concern and ensuring that police are present and visible where needed most.

Murray said O’Toole is also conducting a resource allocation study of position assignments within the department, and will seek to reassign officers from lower priority work to the high-priority work of patrol wherever possible. Additionally, Murray’s 2015-16 budget will propose $3.3 million to fill every recruit class available to the City of Seattle at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Center in both 2015 and 2016.

“I pledged during the campaign that we would add one hundred fully trained officers by the end of my four-year term, and my budget proposal puts us on a stable path to get there,” said Murray. “By the end of 2015, based on current forecasts for attrition, we will be halfway toward my goal of one hundred additional officers, and my next two-year budget will plan to close the remaining gap. By the end of 2016, my budget will fund the highest number of fully trained officers in SPD’s history.”

Murray said his 2015-16 budget proposal will fully fund compliance with the federal court order.

Murray also announced plans in his 2015-16 budget to add $2.75 million in new investments in human services. He said his proposal will leverage new resources for homelessness services in particular, including expanding the best-practice strategy of rapid rehousing, and creating capacity at homeless shelters by moving long-term stayers into permanent housing – a suite of new investments in homelessness services totaling $1.5 million annually in 2015 and 2016.

“Investments in rapid rehousing are more successful and less costly than any other strategy for assisting unsheltered individuals,” said Murray. “I signed onto the First Lady’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness by 2015, and my budget proposal includes funding for a rapid rehousing program targeted at veterans that will help us achieve this important goal.”

Murray’s 2015-16 budget will propose $600,000 annually to fund a program for 150 homeless single adults, targeting veterans, to receive rapid placement into housing, rental assistance, and employment support. Murray’s budget proposal will also fund efforts to move 25 of the longest-term stayers at homeless shelters into permanent housing, which will free up 3,375 shelter bed nights.

“There are more than 2,300 individuals living unsheltered in Seattle on any given night, and emergency shelters are at capacity, said Murray, who said his budget proposal commits $410,000 annually to provide subsidies for rental assistance, congregate housing or shared housing for long-term stayers, and leverages funding from the United Way of King County in a dollar-for-dollar match. “Shelters are meant to serve a temporary need, but a number of individuals are staying in shelters long term, to where one quarter of shelter users consume three quarters of shelter bed nights. Moving long-term stayers into permanent housing will help those individuals and increase shelter bed capacity for those currently without shelter.”

Additional human service investments in Murray’s 2015-16 budget include:

  • A one-time matching contribution toward the capital redevelopment of the North Public Health Center located near North Seattle Community College ($500,000),
  • Mitigating proposed budget cuts at Seattle/King County Public Health ($400,000), including:

o   Supporting maternity services; women, infant and children services; and family planning services at Greenbridge Public Health Center ($150,000)

o   Access and outreach services for new enrollments in Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act,

o   Family planning health educators ($50,000),

o   HIV/STD education and outreach ($50,000),

o   Gun violence prevention ($50,000)

  • Funding for an additional 40,000 to 100,000 lbs. of fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, or other proteins for more than 40 participating food banks, meal programs, and other providers ($100,000),
  • Support for the Breakfast Group Mentoring Program, a program providing young men of color in Seattle Public Schools with wrap-around services, individualized instruction plans and mentoring to complete their secondary education and access higher education or employment opportunities ($100,000),
  • Support for the Rainier Valley Corp to recruit emerging leaders from diverse immigrant communities and provide training, support and mentorship ($75,000), and
  • Funding to fill a gap in senior center services in Lake City ($70,000).

Video from the press conference

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Mayor Murray on September 11 anniversary

Mayor Murray released the following statement today on the 13th anniversary of September 11th:

Today, we pause to remember the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and the pain the day brought to so many families in this country.

As we remember those who died in the attacks, we also remember the heroism of first responders who selflessly rushed into harm’s way.

Let us not forget the day as we continue to move forward together as a city, as a state, and as a nation.

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Seattle recognized as the nation’s most sustainable city

star-logo.0STAR Communities announced today that Seattle has been awarded a 5-STAR Community Rating for national leadership in sustainability. The City achieved the highest score to date, and is only the second in the nation to achieve the 5-STAR rating for its participation in the STAR Community Rating System (STAR), which evaluates the livability and sustainability of U.S. communities.

“I applaud our numerous community partners whose work contributed to this recognition and the highest score yet received by any City in the country,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Our commitment to sustainable practices and innovative solutions begins and ends with our residents and businesses. This 5-STAR rating is just the latest example of the Seattle’s deep-seated culture of environmental consciousness.”

“Sustainable cities provide a healthy environment, support a strong economy, and continually improve the well-being of the whole community,” said Hilari Varnadore, executive director of STAR Communities. “Seattle has set a new bar – its achievement as the highest scoring STAR Community is an aspirational example for other communities to strive to meet as they pursue their own sustainability goals and objectives.”

Along with local government partners, STAR Communities developed and implemented a robust sustainability rating system for cities, towns and counties. Its national rating program helps communities evaluate themselves in seven sustainability goal areas: Built Environment, Climate & Energy, Economy & Jobs, Education, Arts & Community, Equity & Empowerment, Health & Safety, and Natural Systems.

While Seattle performed very well across all goal areas, several efforts stood out among its sustainability initiatives:

  • Commitment to Carbon Neutrality:  Seattle’s publicly owned utility, Seattle City Light, was the first electric utility in the nation to become carbon neutral. Additionally, Seattle became one of the first cities in the nation to set a goal of carbon neutrality when the Seattle Climate Action Plan was adopted in 2013.
  • Leading Edge Energy Efficiency Programs:  Community Power Works, an innovative energy efficiency and economic development program, has led to home energy upgrades for over 3000 families while helping grow local home contractors’ businesses. Seattle’s low-income residents also benefit from energy upgrades through HomeWise, a program that provides free weatherization services. Seattle’s Energy Benchmarking program, which requires commercial property owners to track and report energy usage, has one of the highest compliance rates in the country.
  • The Green Seattle Partnership (GSP): A unique public-private partnership working to restore and maintain Seattle’s forested parklands. The GSP has engaged thousands of volunteers since 2005—resulting in nearly 650,000 volunteer hours spent planting over 150,000 trees and restoring over 1,000 acres of parkland throughout the city. GSP also partners with Seattle Goodwill Industries in a work readiness program targeting at-risk young adults and providing them with on-the-job training in restoration and trail maintenance.
  • Transportation Choices: Seattle is one of only five cities in the nation where less than half of commuters are driving alone to work. Since 2011, Seattle has seen a 59% increase in bicycling and a 27% increase in pedestrian traffic.

Seattle is one of more than 30 local governments that participated in a year-long pilot program with STAR Communities. Today, more than 80 communities, representing 34 million residents, participate in STAR. While 18 other communities have been certified, only Northampton, MA has achieved a 5-STAR rating along with Seattle.

“The STAR rating process gave us the framework for a deep dive sustainability assessment—to identify where we are strong and where there is more we can do,” said Jill Simmons, Director of the Office of Sustainability & Environment. “The assessment is also a great tool to engage our community partners around shared goals and opportunities for further action.”
An area where Seattle showed opportunity for improvement was environmental justice and equity. To that end, Mayor Murray will include in his 2015 budget request funding for the Office of Sustainability & Environment, working in close partnership with other departments and the community, to develop an Equity & Environment Initiative to be launched next year. This initiative will be a City-Community partnership to explore who is and isn’t benefiting from Seattle’s environmental progress and to implement practices and processes to enhance environmental equity and to provide opportunities for everyone to participate in Seattle’s environmental movement.

To view Seattle’s full report, go to http://www.starcommunities.org/communities/31-seattle-washington.

To view the full list of communities involved, go to http://www.STARcommunities.org/communities.

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