Murray announces communications staff changes

Mayor Murray today announced his appointment of Jason Kelly to serve as Press Secretary in the Mayor’s Office.

Kelly served most recently as Strategic Communications Manager for the Port of Seattle. He lives in Seattle with his wife, Juliette, and their two children, Gavin and Fiona.

Prior to moving to Seattle, he worked in several communications positions in Olympia, including in the Office of Gov. Chris Gregoire, the State Department of Agriculture, the State Senate, the State School Directors’ Association and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

His recent community service includes terms on the Board of Directors of Parent Trust for Washington Children and the Board of Trustees of the Griffin School Foundation. He frequently volunteers as a youth sports coach.

Kelly began his career in public service in Washington, DC, first with U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone and then Rep. David Minge, both Members of Congress from his native state of Minnesota.

Kelly received a B.A. in history from the University of Minnesota.

His first day in the Mayor’s Office is Aug. 20th and his salary is $100,000 annually. Megan Coppersmith, who has served as Acting Press Secretary in the Mayor’s Office since March, returns to her permanent role as Public Information Advisor for the City’s Department of Information Technology.

Additionally, Mike Gore has been promoted to the position of Deputy Press Secretary from his former role of Correspondence Manager.

Gore, a Seattle native, recently graduated with a degree in journalism from Western Washington University. Gore interned at The White House Office of Communications and at The Stranger while in school, as well as serving in the role of Daily Managing Editor at Western’s award-winning student newspaper, The Western Front.

Gore’s salary is $62,640 annually.

Mayor Murray releases recommendations to double enrollment in Seattle’s Utility Discount Program

UDP presser

Mayor Murray today provided an update on the City of Seattle’s efforts to promote affordability by increasing enrollment in the Utility Discount Program.

“It’s extremely important that Seattle remain inclusive and affordable for people all across the income spectrum,” said Murray. “Increasing enrollment in the Utility Discount Program is another critical step we are taking on the road to making Seattle affordable for everyone who wants to live here.”

Recently approved by the City Council, the Seattle City Light (SCL) and Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) strategic business plans address affordability by setting stable rate increases, thereby controlling costs for customers. SCL’s rate increases have averaged almost 7 percent over the past 5 years and will now be held to 4.4 percent per year. SPU’s rate increases, which have averaged almost 7 percent annually over the past 10 years, will now be held at 4.6 percent per year. Find graphs of these changes here.

Both strategic plans also include the goal of doubling enrollment of the city’s Utility Discount Program by 2018, a goal announced by Murray in January.

Seattle has one of the strongest utility discount programs in the country; however, of the estimated 72,000 Seattle residents who qualify for this important program, only 14,000 were enrolled at the beginning of the year. Faced with this information, Murray put together an interdepartmental team to strengthen the program. Read the report here.

“Each month Solid Ground serves thousands of families who must make tough choices between paying their rent and paying their utility bills. Increased utility rate assistance is critical for Seattle’s working families who are at risk of being priced out. Solid Ground applauds the mayor’s call to expand the Utility Discount Program and looks forward to continued efforts to keep Seattle affordable and inclusive,” said Gordon McHenry, president and CEO of Solid Ground.

Since January 2014, the Utility Discount Program has made a concerted effort to raise enrollment by running direct mail marketing campaigns and coupling their efforts with other services and service providers, such as auto-enrolling customers who are participating in SPU’s Emergency Assistance Program and allowing affordable housing providers to enroll new and current tenants. Changes in the program also allow for customers to remain enrolled when they move. These changes have led to a 12 percent increase in enrollment through June 2014.

Additional changes are on the horizon the Utility Discount Program, including creating a single online point of entry for consumers, an online application process, auto-enrolling qualifying subsidized housing units; integrating Utility Discount Program with Seattle Financial Empowerment Centers, aligning eligibility thresholds and benefit across both utilities, lessening documentation requirements, extending the recertification time from 18 months to 2 years, and including the utility discount program benefit on monthly billing statements.

“The recommendations for streamlining enrollment in the Utility Discount Program will undoubtedly make the program more accessible, enabling the City to help more Seattle residents,” said Steve Daschle, Co-Chair of the Seattle Human Services Coalition.

For more information, visit http://murray.seattle.gov/udp.

Video from the press conference:

Mayor Murray provides an update on the Barton foreclosure situation

Mayor Murray today released the following statement about the Barton foreclosure situation:

“Three weeks ago I directed the Seattle Police Department to stand down from removing the Bartons from their home out of concern for the circumstances of the family, and because it wasn’t clear that all options had been explored for connecting the Bartons to services available to them.

Representatives from the City’s Office of Housing as well as the Human Services Department have been in almost daily contact with the Bartons ever since, presenting the family with an array of health and human services for which they may be eligible at the city, county, state and federal levels. To date, the Bartons, however, have not pursued any of these options while choosing to remain in the home.”

I want to add that, during these site visits, staff – who are mandatory reporters – observed conditions inside the residence that required them to submit reports to Adult Protective Services.

I also said three weeks ago that the City would comply with any order from the court to proceed with the eviction, should it come to that.

Today, the judge decided that SPD acted properly in exercising its discretion over the past three weeks. The judge also ruled that the responsibility to execute any court order to remove the Bartons lies with King County. Triangle Properties now has the option to seek a writ against the King County Sheriff’s Office to proceed with the eviction.”

Mayor Murray weighs in on Council immigration resolution

Mayor Murray today added his voice to the national dialogue about our existing immigration laws, a dialogue also taken up this week by the Seattle City Council.

“I strongly support the resolution approved today by the Council,” said Murray. “We are a nation – and Seattle is a city – built by immigrants. I am committed to preserving our tradition as a welcoming community that embraces all of our residents regardless of their status or how they arrived. The President must take action to stop the historic numbers of deportations that are devastating families and causing workers and employers to operate under fear and uncertainty.”

Murray also addressed the growing refugee crisis at our borders, which made local headlines in mid-July with reports of approximately 600 unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America expected at Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM) because they lacked sponsors inside the country to host them as they move through our country’s immigration system. Last week, state and federal officials announced that sponsors within the community and shelters in other states have the capacity to meet current needs need, and that no unaccompanied refugee children would be hosted at JBLM at this time.

“On behalf of the City of Seattle, I want to thank the sponsors and foster parents in our city and across the state who have opened their homes to care for the 211 refugee children until they have their claims heard in court – they reflect the best of our city, our state and our country,” said Murray. “And, as Mayor of Seattle, I also believe our City government has a strong moral and leadership imperative to address this humanitarian crisis. So I am directing City departments to work with our community partners to identify what we can do together should the current situation change and our region receive unaccompanied refugee children in the future.”

Murray said that his office will to continue to monitor the situation and remain in regular contact with state and federal agencies to keep abreast of new developments.

In the meantime, Murray will also:

  • Direct relevant City departments to refresh their staffs’ and contractors’ understanding of the City’s sanctuary policy, which does not require proof of status from residents requesting or receiving City-funded services;
  • Conduct, through the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA), a media campaign to raise awareness within Seattle’s immigrant communities about the City’s sanctuary policy; and
  • Direct OIRA, the Human Services Department and the Office of Housing, among other City departments, to begin studying how City government can work in conjunction with our community partners – churches, community-based organizations, faith organizations, and business and philanthropic institutions – in order to best support new arrivals when the need arises.

Finally, Murray said that he will send a letter to Washington’s Congressional delegation urging increased funding for the Office of Refugee Resettlement, both to serve the refugee children crossing our borders and to restore previous cuts to services for refugees who are already here.

“To pit the needs of incoming refugee children against the needs of new Americans who’ve been resettled and are now working to integrate within their communities is wrong,” said Murray. “Here in Seattle, refugee resettlement agencies are feeling the impact of having funding for existing services for refugees and their families eliminated. We can and must do better.”

Throughout his career as an elected official, Murray has been a strong advocate for immigrant populations. As chair of the state House Capital Budget Committee, Murray established the first-ever state investment in farm-worker housing. As chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, Murray secured funding for medical interpreters and helped make Washington the first state to protect medical interpreters with a union contract. Then-Sen. Murray was also the original sponsor of the Washington DREAM Act to open state financial aid to undocumented students, which was signed into law during the 2014 Legislative Session. In one of his first acts as Mayor, Murray doubled the size of the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs.

City invites neighbors to participate in fifth ‘Find It, Fix It’ Community Walk

Find It Fix It Community Walks

Mayor Murray’s ‘Find It, Fix It’ Community Walk, focused on several crime hotspots, makes its way to a fifth neighborhood in Seattle next Tuesday, August 12.

At the walks, 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

The next Find It, Fix It Community Walk:
Tuesday, August 12, 7 – 9 p.m., Rainier Ave. and Henderson
Meet at the Rainier Beach Community Center Plaza (Map)

7 – 7:15 p.m.

  • Short program featuring Mayor Ed Murray, City Councilmember Sally J. Clark, City Attorney Pete Holmes, Seattle Police Department Chief Kathleen O’Toole, and department representatives.

7:15 – 9 p.m.

Walk commences along the following route:

  • South on Rainier Ave S.
  • East to Seward Park Ave S.
  • North on Seward Park Ave S.
  • West on S. Fisher Place
  • North on 53rd Ave S.
  • West on S. Henderson
  • North on Rainier Ave S. to Cloverdale
  • Return south to Rainier Beach Community Center

9 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.

Mayor Murray applauds passage of Parks District measure

Mayor Murray today issued the following statement in response to the apparent passage of the Seattle Parks District measure by Seattle voters:

“I want to thank Seattle voters for their support of the parks district and commitment to creating a lasting legacy of open space and facilities for generations of Seattleites.

This vote means a sustainable source of funding for our parks system. We will begin work immediately to address our existing maintenance backlog, working diligently to manage the needs of our park system as Seattle continues to grow as a city.”

Mayor Murray’s broadband plan already yielding results

Mayor Murray’s broadband plan already yielding results

Mayor Murray today announced that, as part of his three-point plan for more and better broadband service in Seattle, he will send legislation to City Council that will bring more competition to the marketplace and more access to service – especially in neighborhoods that are currently underserved.

Murray said his legislation will change a regulatory barrier – the SDOT “director’s rule” – that has prevented companies from investing in their own high-speed fiber networks within the city. CenturyLink earlier today announced that this change will allow it to bring one-gigabit, fiber-to-the-premises internet access to tens of thousands of single-family Seattle homes in Beacon Hill, Central District, Ballard, and West Seattle by the end of 2015.

“So much of our recent economic growth has been due to the success of high tech companies and start-ups that have chosen to make Seattle home,” said Murray. “Yet not all Seattleites are benefiting from our technology boom, and we know that some neighborhoods today lack adequate, competitive choices for broadband internet access. CenturyLink’s announcement to bring fiber internet access to tens of thousands of homes is an important first step in my broadband strategy, but there is more we can do as city to bring equal and affordable access to all.”

“The proposed changes will help expand broadband deployment in Seattle by opening up our market and making it easier to build the necessary infrastructure for next generation broadband services to neighborhoods like Beacon Hill,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology committee. “Broadband deployment is an equity issue and we must make sure underserved neighborhoods receive the same type of investments. Next generation broadband service is critical to developing our local economy, enabling telecommuting, taking online classes, healthcare, and ensuring businesses have the speeds to be successful. This proposed legislation to supersede an outdated rule is long overdue. I applaud the Mayor in prioritizing resources for this work and advancing legislation through a community stakeholder process.”

In addition to reducing regulatory barriers, Murray said his broadband plan includes pursuing public-private partnerships to allow companies to lease City-owned dark fiber already running beneath our streets, as well as continuing to assess the feasibility of a municipal broadband option.

“This is a great first step in opening our neighborhoods to competitive broadband services.  The Mayor’s office is actively working with members of the community and the broadband providers to give us more competition and choices.  This is a win for all of us and it will encourage better broadband service, especially in the under-served neighborhoods in Seattle,” said Robert Kangas, Chair of Upping Technology for Underserved Neighbors.

“Some of the most famous entrepreneurs in the world started their businesses out of their homes here in Washington State. Putting enterprise-grade internet speeds within everyone’s reach will be an instant boon to Seattle’s tech industry as it places the ultimate tool required to start and grow a tech company into the hands of any potential entrepreneur,” said Patti Brooke, vice president of government affairs and member programs at the Washington Technology Industry Association.

“This announcement puts forward a solution that provides residents with more broadband choices while furthering the City’s efforts in driving tech access and affordability by cutting through the red tape that has hindered broadband investment in the past,” said Brian Hsi, of the Seattle Citizens Technology and Telecommunications Advisory Board.

“Attracting residents, start-ups, and businesses that rely on fast internet speed is vital to a globally competitive city,” said Maud Daudon, president and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. “Increasing to 1 gigabit internet speed will help cement Seattle’s status as a burgeoning technology powerhouse.”

The proposed legislation to replace the director’s rule is the result of several months of stakeholder meetings that included representatives from communication service providers, City departments, the Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board, the Citizens Telecommunications and Technology Advisory Board, the Public Space Management Taskforce, Upping Technology in Underserved Neighborhoods, and the Beacon Hill Community Council.

“I am committed to digital equity for this city, but it’s a new era,” said Murray. “Cities are competing for broadband and have to be more welcoming. To compete – and to remain technology leaders – we need to relook at some parts of how Seattle does business.”

Murray’s legislation will be transmitted to the City Council this week, where it will be taken up by the Transportation Committee.

City of Seattle awards funds to promote digital equity; 23 projects receive Technology Matching Funds

Technology Matching Fund Recipients

Mayor Murray and the Seattle City Council today announced the 23 organizations that will receive a total of $320,000 in Technology Matching Funds from the City of Seattle. The awardees passed unanimously out of committee. Watch the video here. Approval by the full Council is expected on Monday.

“While access to technology has increased for many, there is still a significant gap in the access to and use of technology in Seattle,” said Mayor Murray. “Technology skills are necessary for success in the 21st century and these funds play a critical role in preparing our residents.”

“These funds play an important role in leveling the playing field. They help our must vulnerable residents use technology in innovative and meaningful ways, including seniors, at risk youth, homeless women and children, immigrants and refugees, and people with disabilities,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee.

The money will support projects throughout the city to ensure all Seattleites have access to and proficiency using internet-based technologies. These projects were selected from Seattle’s Technology Advisory Board from more than 67 applicants and will contribute a projected $685,711 in community matching resources, more than double the City’s investment.

The funds will support greater digital equity in Seattle. Several projects will help Seattle build a diverse technology workforce, by providing STEM education programs for youth of color and computer and applications training to immigrants and low-income adults.  Other programs will help seniors and people with disabilities better engage using a variety of tools, including tablets, touch screens and social media. The projects will also enable greater electronic civic participation for many disadvantaged residents.

The 2014 Technology Matching Fund award recipients include:

  • Ballard NW Senior Center
  • Casa Latina
  • North Seattle Family Center/ Children’s Home Society of WA
  • Denny Terrace Computer Lab
  • Elizabeth Gregory Home
  • Filipino Community of Seattle
  • Helping Link
  • Hilltop House
  • Lao Women Association of Washington
  • Literacy Source
  • North Seattle Boys & Girls Club
  • Northaven Retirement and Assisted Living
  • Open Doors for Multicultural Families/STAR Center at Center Park
  • Ross Manor Computer Lab
  • Seattle Neighborhood Coalition
  • Solid Ground Sand Point Housing Campus
  • Somali Community Services of Seattle
  • South Park Area Redevelopment Center
  • The Jefferson Terrace Computer Lab Committee
  • University of Washington Women’s Center
  • Vietnamese Friendship Association
  • Washington Community Alliance for Self-Help (CASH)
  • YMCA of Greater Seattle – Y @ Cascade People’s Center.

For more information and a map of Technology Matching Fund awardees visit http://www.seattle.gov/tech/TMF/2014.

Mayor Murray announces passing of former mayor Paul Schell

Paul SchellIt is with great sadness that Mayor Murray announces the passing of Seattle’s 50th mayor, Paul Schell, who served from 1998-2002. Schell died this morning surrounded by family and friends at Swedish Hospital. He was 76 years old.

Schell will be remembered as one of the great city builders of the Pacific Northwest. As a citizen activist, lawyer, director of community development, port commissioner, dean of architecture and mayor he directly shaped the civic infrastructure of Seattle for more than 40 years.

Schell’s greatest professional accomplishment has been the infrastructure that he built and influenced. The first Libraries for All campaign was a brainchild of Schell’s, establishing and building a new downtown library and rebuilding branches throughout the city. He led the effort to fund Seattle’s first parks levy, rebuild the opera house and was instrumental in building the Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle’s City Hall and Justice Center.

During his time as mayor, Schell helped develop Seattle’s 37 neighborhood plans, laying the foundation for the strong neighborhood system that is seen today. Schell was not only committed to the infrastructure, but also to the people of Seattle. He worked tirelessly to increase service for Seattle’s homeless and immigrant communities, bringing them much-needed services.

“Paul will be greatly missed. He was truly committed to the people of Seattle, working to improve the city both as an elected official and private citizen. He was dedicated to the lives of the people of this city, evidenced by his countless contributions and the legacy he built here,” said Murray.

“Paul fell in love with Seattle when he moved here, as a lot of us then younger people did, then as a civic leader and a mayor he went about making this city even a better place. In a relatively brief time in office, he made a huge and lasting difference in our city,” said former mayor and friend Charlie Royer.

Schell is survived by Pam, his wife of 51 years, and daughter, Jamie. The Schell’s have been patrons of the arts in Seattle and Whidbey Island, supporting institutions like the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts.

Additional information on remembrance services will be provided in the days to come. Schell’s family has asked for privacy during this difficult time. Please address inquiries to the Mayor’s communications office.

 

City invites neighbors to participate in fourth ‘Find It, Fix It’ Community Walk

Find It, Fix It Community Walk

Mayor Murray’s ‘Find it, Fix it’ Community Walks, focused on several crime hotspots, makes its way to a fourth neighborhood in Seattle next Tuesday, July 29.

At the walks, community residents, police, and city officials have been walking together to identify physical disorder and solve it. The three walks already conducted have seen great success with a 40 percent rise in use of the Find It, Fix It application and identification, notification and action taken on graffiti removal, street lighting, litter and garbage clean-up, and trimming overgrown bushes and trees.

The next Find It, Fix It Community Walk
Tuesday, July 29, 7 – 9 p.m., Rainier Ave. and Genesee
Meet in the Jumbo’s parking lot (Map)

7 – 7:15 p.m.

  • Short program featuring Mayor Ed Murray, City Councilmembers Sally J. Clark and Bruce Harrell, City Attorney Pete Holmes, Seattle Police Department officials and department representatives.

7:15 – 9 p.m.

Walk commences along the following route:

  • East S. Genesee
  • South on 37th Ave S.
  • West on S. Oregon St.
  • North on Rainier Ave. S.
  • East on S. Andover St.
  • North on Courtland Pl.
  • East on the Charlestown St. Hillclimb
  • South on 37th Ave S.
  • West on S. Adams St.
  • Walk ends at Jumbo’s parking lot

9 p.m.

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

We’re scheduling additional ‘Find it, Fix it’ Community Walks that we will announce in the coming weeks. The next scheduled walk will take place on August 12, from 7 – 9 p.m. in the Rainier Beach neighborhood, at the intersection of Rainier and Henderson.

Residents are also encouraged to participate in the August 5 Night Out for Crime in their own neighborhoods. For more information and to register your event, visit the Mayor’s web site.

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