Mayor Murray wraps up Ireland trip with visits to Irish President Higgins and Prime Minister Kenny

Mayor Murray finished up his trip to Ireland yesterday after spending time there advocating for marriage equality in advance of Ireland’s national vote on same-sex civil marriage, celebrating the Sister City relationship between Galway and Seattle, and speaking to the American Chamber of Commerce about well-established business connections between Seattle and Ireland.

On Monday, the Mayor met Taoiseach Enda Kenny — Ireland’s Prime Minister — at his offices adjoining Leinster House, the seat of Ireland’s Parliament.




On Tuesday, the Mayor and First Gentleman Michael Shiosaki met Irish President Michael Higgins at his official residence in Phoenix Park, Dublin. The residence was designed by James Hoban who also designed the White House. The Mayor was joined on the trip by Seattle Police Department’s Pipes and Drums Band, which raised private funds from the Seattle Police Foundation and others to join in the Sister City celebrations.

Mayor Murray, Michael Shiosaki, and Irish President Michael Higgins DSCN4825

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Mayor Murray statement on SPD Training report

Mayor Murray released the following statement today regarding a recent report about SPD’s Education and Training Section:

The Office of Professional Accountability report on SPD’s Education and Training Section acknowledges the progress Chief O’Toole and her command staff have already made to reform the practices of ETS.

While we have charted a new course to more effective training at SPD, we have more work to do. In light of this report, I have directed the chief to again review ETS management structure, fiscal accountability measures and program outcomes.

Training is a critical tool in our efforts to reform the department and comply with the terms of the settlement agreement. Seattle’s police officers and the public expect and demand a program that builds officers’ skills and helps make Seattle a safer city.

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Murray travels to Ireland to support business and cultural ties, discuss marriage equality

In his first trip overseas as the Mayor of Seattle, Ed Murray is traveling today to Ireland. He will speak on marriage equality in advance of Ireland’s national vote on same-sex civil marriage, as well as support continued strong business ties between the two nations.

Murray and Galway Mayor Donal Lyons will also celebrate their communities’ three-decade Sister City relationship with fresh-shucked oysters and music from Seattle Police Department’s Pipes and Drums Band.

Seattle enjoys strong economic and cultural ties with Ireland that benefit both of our communities,” said Murray. “Whether it’s Boeing selling hundreds of aircraft to Ryanair or Seattle’s boutique hotels hosting cruise passengers from Dublin, we want to foster those meaningful, productive relationships.”

The trip is a reunion of sorts for Murray. His grandparents emigrated from Ireland in the early 20th century. Murray himself lived in Belfast in 1974.

Seattle and Galway have been sister cities since 1986. Galway, a university town on the west coast, is the fourth-largest community in Ireland. The town is also known as Ireland’s cultural heart and a major tourist destination.

Galway Mayor Donal Lyons will host Murray at Friday’s opening of the Galway Oyster Festival, where the two mayors will share the first oysters of the season.

The Pipes and Drums Band raised private funds from the Seattle Police Foundation and others to join in the Sister City celebrations. Mayor Murray and the Pipes and Drums will march in the annual Oyster Festival parade on Saturday.

During his time there, Mayor Murray will meet with Galway University law students, administrators and faculty. He will lead a roundtable discussion at the university on legislating for employment and marriage equality for the LGBT community of Ireland.

On Monday, Mayor Murray travels to Dublin to meet with the American Chamber of Commerce and speak on the well-established business connections between Seattle and Ireland. The panel will feature speakers from Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon and Sláinte Healthcare.

While in Dublin, Murray will meet with finalists of EY Ireland’s Entrepreneur of the Year program who visited Seattle in 2014. The entrepreneurs met with Murray and Seattle business and education leaders during their visit to the Pacific Northwest in May.

Mayor Murray will also travel to Leinster House, the seat of the Irish national parliament, to meet with government and legislative leaders. The Irish government has indicated that a national referendum on marriage equality will be scheduled for the spring of 2015.

That evening, EY’s UNITY Network is hosting the Mayor where he will speak to the Gay + Lesbian Equality Network on marriage equality and the value of diversity and inclusion in the workforce.

As his trip ends on Tuesday, Mayor Murray will meet with Irish President Michael D. Higgins at his official residence in Dublin, Áras an Uachtaráin.

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Mayor, Council launch new affordable housing effort

signing housing advisory committeeMayor Ed Murray and members of the City Council today launched an effort to develop new policies to encourage more affordable housing in Seattle.

“Now that we’ve successfully increased Seattle’s minimum wage, housing affordability is the next major policy area we must tackle to close the income inequality gap, and we must act with as great a sense of urgency as we did with the minimum wage,” said Murray. “As the fastest growing city in America, too many low and middle-income families find it increasingly difficult to live and work in Seattle. It’s a complex problem, but we’ve got to address concerns about both the cost and availability of housing in our city.”

Murray today signed a City Council Resolution creating the Housing Affordability & Livability Advisory Committee, and announced the committee’s structure, membership and timeframe for action.

“City residents, community groups, employers and others are deeply concerned about rising rents, erosion of affordable housing, the impacts of the size and type of housing being built throughout Seattle, and the best way for the City to engage,” said Councilmember Sally J. Clark, sponsor of the resolution chartering the housing plan work. “It’s time that we, as a city, take a sharp and purposeful look at the entire spectrum of housing development and affordability and to plan for what we want.”

“With the support of the Advisory Committee, we will develop a long-term plan for addressing the growing pressure on affordability and providing more opportunities to live in Seattle for more people,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien. “I am grateful to these individuals for stepping up to help us tackle one of the biggest issues we face in this city.”

The twenty-eight member, stakeholder Advisory Committee is being co-chaired by Faith Li Pettis of Pacifica Law Group and philanthropic-sector leader David Wertheimer, and includes renters and homeowners, for-profit and non-profit developers and other local housing experts.

The Advisory Committee will seek to identify and evaluate policy options to create more available housing for people all along the income spectrum.

“Seattle already faces a housing affordability challenge, and the demand for housing will only increase as our economy grows,” said Pettis. “We need to move from defining the problem to action, embracing the realities and possibilities that our economy and our unique strengths as a community provide.  I am excited and honored to be a part of this critical effort.”

“As a resident of Seattle for the past 25 years, I’ve watched as the city has grown significantly and struggled with important issues of housing affordability and livability,” said Wertheimer. “I look forward to joining with my colleagues on the Committee to create a strategic, long-term approach that keeps Seattle the vibrant, diverse, and creative community that it must continue to be.”

The Advisory Committee will review every piece of the housing puzzle, including exploring innovative ideas to pilot new types of housing, the impact of accessory dwelling units, new efforts to preserve existing affordable housing, opportunities to stretch our valuable Housing Levy dollars using public-private partnerships, and more.

A steering committee will direct the Advisory Committee’s efforts, which will include three public meetings in November and December, and an online town hall.

The Advisory Committee will complete its work and issue its recommendations to Murray by May 30, 2015.

In addition, Murray said the growing crisis of the unsheltered homeless population, which has increased more than 30 percent in the past three years, requires even more urgent action.

“At least 2,300 individuals are right now living in our streets, and will sleep there tonight,” said Murray. “To be without a home is a difficult enough challenge. But to be without shelter is something else entirely.”

Murray announced an Emergency Task Force on Unsheltered Homeless will convened by Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim in mid-October, with representation from the homeless advocacy community, non-profit service providers, funders, and members of business districts and neighborhoods.

Task Force members, who will be announced in the coming days, will have until December 15 to provide recommendations for how the City can better respond to the unsheltered homeless population of Seattle.

“Nothing will be off the table, including the issue of how best to address homeless encampments in our city,” said Murray.

Murray said the work of the Task Force will complement the effort he announced in his budget speech on Monday being undertaken by Human Service Department Director John Okamoto to evaluate the City’s investment in homeless services and make recommendations for how to better align them with best practices.

“While separate and distinct from the work of the Advisory Committee on Housing Affordability & Livability, these two related, parallel efforts will bring new focus to the issue of homelessness and our City’s investment in homeless services and programs,” said Murray.

Okamoto’s recommendations are due on March 1, 2015, Murray said.

Video from the press conference:

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Murray proposes 2015-16 budget

mayor before council budget speech

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray today presented to the City Council his proposed budget for 2015-16 that brings more transparency, more innovation, better organization and better performance to City government.

Murray outlined several major reform proposals, beginning with key reforms to the City’s budgeting process itself.

“We will move toward a performance-based budgeting system and begin paying for outcomes,” said Murray in his budget address to Council. “This will lead to streamlining of services, better use of resources and greater performance from our departments. And, perhaps most importantly, it will drive better service for the people of Seattle.”

Murray’s additional proposed reforms to the City’s budgeting process include:

  • moving City departments to a standard accounting system;
  • conducting a zero-based budgeting exercise for a least two City departments for a better accounting of baseline expenditures;
  • launching an interactive, online “Open Budget” tool on the model of the City of Boston’s tool for greater transparency in City spending;
  • developing performance metrics for all City departments for more efficiency and accountability;
  • launching an online dashboard to track department performance and provide greater transparency and accountability; and
  • establishing an advisory committee on the model of the state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council to provide greater transparency and better performance.

“We will use data – not tradition – to drive how our government functions,” Murray said.

Murray also proposed what he said will be ‘a major restructuring of how we as a City plan for our future.’

“We will look across departments to establish new best practices of coordinated planning,” said Murray, “so that as we plan, we plan together, and when we build new housing, we are also planning new jobs, parks and transportation to support them.”

And, Murray said he has tasked Human Services Director John Okamoto to conduct an audit of the City’s nearly $35 million annual investment in homeless services and to compare City spending against national best practices.

“On any given night, there are at least 2,300 unsheltered individuals on our city streets – and very likely there are more,” said Murray. “It is time for us to learn if a better budgeting approach here in City Hall will create better outcomes for individuals living right now on the streets of this city.”

In his address to Council, Murray restated his priorities of a safe, affordable, vibrant and interconnected city for all. Highlights of Murray’s 2015-16 budget by priority area are available by clicking here.

Murray also said his budget shows how cities can be ‘an incubator of change’ and ‘a laboratory of democracy’ by funding ‘bold policy experimentation,’ including:

“These budget commitments demonstrate a City government flexible enough to reorganize around our priorities and support new policy that reflects the evolving needs of our communities,” Murray said.

As the centerpiece of his agenda for a more affordable city, Murray said that he would announce with Council the members, structure and timeframe for action of his Affordable Housing Advisory Committee on September 23 at 10:30 a.m. on the Seventh Floor of City Hall.

City Council will begin the hearings on the budget proposal on October 2nd.

To learn more about Mayor Ed Murray’s proposed 2015-16 budget please visit here.

Watch the speech:

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Mayor proposes new initiatives to serve immigrants

Mayor Ed MurrayMayor Ed Murray today proposed new, innovative and expanded services to support the success and integration of immigrants and refugees new to Seattle.

The efforts, coordinated through the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, will improve English language education and job training, encourage eligible permanent residents to pursue U.S. citizenship, and improve engagement of immigrants and refugees in public safety initiatives.

“Immigrants account for nearly one-fifth of all Seattle residents and are a vibrant addition to our City,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Many are fleeing violence or extreme poverty, seeking a safe place to raise their families. Our goal is to help them gain the skills they need to get a job, start a business and become U.S. citizens here in their new home.”

The mayor made his announcement on Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, when Americans celebrate the adoption of the U.S. Constitution and the civil rights we are granted as citizens.

Murray is proposing new funding to launch an innovative model called Ready for Work: ESL and Computers that integrates English language education with critical job skills training. In the proposed budget, 80 new immigrants will come together for language instruction from the Seattle Colleges and community-based organizations. The courses will be augmented by hands-on skills training in computers and other workplace basics that will open doors to employment.

The mayor is supporting efforts to encourage citizenship through the New Citizens Program by moving it to the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs in 2016 to amplify its impact and reach. The Seattle area is home to 68,000 legal permanent residents eligible to become citizens; a total of 180,000 people eligible for citizenship live across Washington. Yet only 17,000 new citizens were naturalized in Washington State last year.

Citizenship offers many benefits, including a chance to participate as a voter in our democracy and higher wages and employment rates than non-citizens. New citizens report higher earnings – between 8 and 11 percent higher – after naturalization.

“The Mayor’s proposal is a bold and sensible vision to make real Seattle’s commitment to being a more welcoming community for all of its residents,” said Rich Stolz, Executive Director of OneAmerica. “Together, the programs announced by the mayor will strengthen the City’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs and affirm Seattle’s national leadership in supporting our newest Americans to navigate and integrate into our increasingly diverse community. By investing in English language and jobs-readiness training, promoting citizenship, building bridges between refugee residents and law enforcement, and strengthening language access programs, we are investing in more effective government and a more equitable future where everyone belongs.”

Earlier this month, the City launched the Refugee Women’s Institute, a new program designed to build understanding and trust between refugee communities and the Seattle Police Department. The institute, the first of its kind in the nation, will build a grassroots network of emerging refugee women leaders, while increasing the cultural competency of the female officers who participate.

The mayor’s budget will include $680,000 in new funding for OIRA to support these initiatives, for a total 2015 budget of $1,470,000 for the office.

The mayor will submit his budget to the City Council on Sept. 22nd.

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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:

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

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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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