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.

Mayor Murray provides comment on crude oil train derailment

Mayor Murray issued the following statement on this morning’s crude oil train derailment:

“Earlier today I spoke with US Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to share my concerns over this morning’s crude oil train derailment and the potential for a larger rail accident in our community. I wanted to make sure he understood the critical importance this rail line plays for commuters and the region’s freight network.

Even though they travel through our city, we as a city, do not have control over how the railways are used, and we must rely on the safety standards that are set at the federal level. I thanked Secretary Foxx for yesterday’s release of new oil train safety rules and I am committed to working with him to make these rules as strong as possible.

I’ve directed my departments to review these rules to ensure they protect the people, land and railways of Seattle. I urge the public to join me in providing public comment, encouraging the phasing out of train cars that are not retrofitted to meet high safety standards.

This is an important public safety issue facing Seattle and I will continue to advocate for less oil and coal coming through our city.

Read the safety rules at: http://www.dot.gov/briefing-room/us-dot-announces-comprehensive-proposed-rulemaking-safe-transportation-crude-oil

Mayor Murray names new acting Human Services Department head

John OkamotoMayor Murray today announced John Okamoto as the new acting Director for the city’s Human Services Department (HSD). Okamoto will replace current HSD interim Director Catherine Lester, who will remain with HSD and assist Okamoto in his transition.

“I want to extend my gratitude to Catherine Lester for the great work that she has done since 2011, first as deputy director and then interim director,” said Murray. “As the interim director, Catherine successfully led the department through a period of significant change and uncertainty, prospering in many areas. I’m confident John will build upon Catherine’s great work as we continue looking for a permanent director.”

Okamoto served as Executive Director of the Washington Education Association from 2008 – 2012. He has a long track record of successful leadership positions, and is well known by community, public and business leaders. His extensive management experience includes leadership positions with the Port of Seattle, the Washington State Department of Transportation, and as Director of the former Department of Engineering and former Director of Personnel for the City. Read his resume here.

“I started my ‘calling’ in public service in the Human Services Department many decades ago when I was a summer youth worker job developer and counselor. Coming back to HSD is a full circle for me,” said Okamoto.

“My family has deep history in elder care programs with the creation of Keiro nursing home, the Midori senior housing and Nikkei Manor assisted living facility. I volunteer with homeless meal and housing programs at Operation Nightwatch and Lord’s table,” continued Okamoto. “I am deeply passionate about social justice, equity, and inclusion, but I don’t have an extensive background in human services, housing, and homelessness issues. It’s going to be very important for me to reach out to our nonprofit service provider community and to other external stakeholders and make sure my leadership is informed by their insights and perspectives.”

Paul Lambros, Executive Director of Plymouth Housing Group, served as Co-Chair of the HSD Search Committee along with Co-Chair Dorothy Mann, a retired public health expert who was Regional Health Administrator, Region X, U.S. Public Health Service from 1979 – 1993.  Mann also served two years in the office of Mayor Norman B. Rice as Co-Director of the Mayor’s Violence Prevention Project.

“We have tremendous opportunities under Mayor Murray and his administration to have Seattle leading the way across the country in providing innovative social services and in ending homelessness. John will add value by bringing his strategic understanding of systems, diagnosing challenges and new opportunities, and strengthening relationships,” said Lambros.

Estela Ortega, Executive Director of El Centro de la Raza, added, “I’ve known John for many years and know him to be a honest broker who is deeply committed to our immigrant/refugee communities and someone who understands the importance of culturally competent services. I am confident that John’s steady leadership will help the department continue to meet its mission while working collaboratively with our community-based organizations.”

In appointing Okamoto to this interim role, Murray has tasked him to identify where the department can refine its focus, to strengthen partnerships and alignment with other funders, service providers, and stakeholders, and to lay the foundation for transformational change for the next permanent director.

Okamoto’s interim assignment will start on August 1, 2014, with an annualized salary of $151,000. Lester has agreed to stay on and help with the transition. The search process for the permanent HSD Director will be placed on hold until early 2015, with a goal of identifying a new permanent Director by the middle of next year. Similar to the current process, next year’s search process will also include extensive outreach to service providers and community stakeholders for their input and guidance.

The Human Services Department funds and operates programs and services that meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable people in our community — families and individuals with low incomes, children, domestic violence and sexual assault victims, homeless people, seniors, and persons with disabilities.

Murray also announced the reappointment of Fred Podesta as the Director of the Finance and Administrative Services Department and Glen Lee as Finance Director. Podesta’s annual salary will be $157,300 and Lee’s annual salary will be $152,700.

Mayor Murray’s statement on Barton foreclosure

Mayor Murray issued the following statement today on the Barton foreclosure:

“We are attempting to understand all options that may exist in this situation and I have asked Chief O’Toole and the Seattle Police Department to stand by while the latest court proceedings unwind.

An interdepartmental team has been working on the issue of foreclosure and how the City of Seattle can proactively connect residents to resources early in the process. I’ve pledged the City of Seattle’s participation in the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness in 2015, and will launch a separate process to address homelessness and increase housing affordability in the months ahead, one of my visions toward making Seattle an affordable city.

In Washington State, we’ve seen recent victories such as the 2011 Washington State Foreclosure Fairness Act, which I worked on closely, designed to help homeowners and their lenders explore alternatives to foreclosure and reach a resolution when possible. I’m committed to working with all stakeholders, using this and other alternatives in the work Seattle does on housing affordability.”

The City of Seattle and Washington State have resources to help homeowners avoid default and work out repayment plans in order to stay in their homes, or gain enough time to sell their homes on their own terms:

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

In his public safety address to the Seattle City Council last month, Mayor Murray detailed a series of ‘Find it, Fix it’ Community Walks, focused on several crime hotspots.

At the walks, community residents, police, and city officials have been walking together to identify physical disorder and solve it. The two 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 22, 7 – 9 p.m., Rainier Beach Station Plaza (Martin Luther King Jr Way and S. Henderson St.)
Meet in the plaza (Map)

7 – 7:15 p.m.

  • Short program featuring City Councilmember Bruce Harrell, City Attorney Pete Holmes, Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole and department representatives.

7:15 – 9 p.m.

Walk commences along the following route:

  • East on S. Henderson St.
  • North on Renton Ave. S.
  • Stop at the Somali Community Services (8810 Renton Ave South)
  • West on S. Trenton St.
  • Return to Light Rail Station, board northbound train to Othello Station.

**Please note, fare passes will be provided for this part of the walk**

  • South on Martin Luther King Jr Way S.
  • East on S. Othello St.
  • Walk ends at Othello Playground

9 p.m.

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

The Rainier Beach Light Rail Station is one of five hot spots identified in the City of Seattle’s three-year U.S. Department of Justice Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation grant. The project called Rainier Beach: A Beautiful Safe Place for Youth, focuses on non-arrest, place-based interventions to reduce crime. The project is based on hot spot research by George Mason’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy. The work is being conducted by a 60-member, diverse community task force that has been analyzing crime and community data for more than six months and has identified recommendations to reduce crime at the Light Rail Station and four other locations. Members of the community task force will be participating in Tuesday’s Find It Fix It walk.

Additional ‘Find it, Fix it’ Community Walks will take place in the upcoming weeks:

  • July 29, 7 – 9 p.m.: Rainier Ave. and Genesee
  • August 12, 7 – 9 p.m.: Rainier Beach

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 vote on Metro transit funding in Seattle

Mayor Murray issued the following statement in response to the Seattle Transportation Benefit District Board’s vote to place a proposal to fund Metro Transit service in Seattle on the November 4 ballot:

“I was very disappointed with the failure of King County’s Proposition 1 in April, especially because of the overwhelming – two-thirds – support from Seattle residents. It’s clear that Seattle voters value transit service as a way of life and, for many, it is a lifeline we cannot afford to cut. Preserving transit service is the most progressive act we can take, but we must ensure our low-income residents are not overly burdened by the increased taxes. The proposal includes a low-income vehicle fee rebate and increased access to King County’s planned low-income fare.

I want to thank the Board members for sending the proposal to preserve Metro Transit service in Seattle to the ballot. I especially want to thank Board Chair Tom Rasmussen for his leadership in moving this through the Transportation Benefit District.

My colleagues on the Council and I are committed to a long-term, regional funding solution for transit. While this measure will help preserve service in the short-term, I am also committed to working with the King County Executive, coalition partners and our legislative leaders toward achieving a balanced comprehensive statewide package as quickly as we can.”

Mayor Murray renames City Hall to ‘Kitty Hall’ for the day to highlight Animal Shelter foster program

Mayor Murray renamed City Hall to Kitty Hall today to highlights the Seattle Animal Shelter’s foster care program and to promote shelter cat adoptions. The shelter currently has more than 200 cats and kittens available for adoption, both at the shelter and in foster homes. The kittens that took Kitty Hall by storm today are all currently under the care of foster parents.

The Seattle Animal Shelter, located at 2061 15th Ave. W., is open Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. for adoptions and licensing. Animals available for adoption can be viewed online at www.seattleanimalshelter.org. The animal shelter’s next Adopt A Cat event will be held this Saturday, July 19 from noon to 3 p.m. at the Phinney Ridge Neighborhood Association at 6532 Phinney Ave N.

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The kittens requested plenty of treats and paw sanitizer in their contract.

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“Oh hi. I’m Cat Mayor now.”

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“I hereby proclaim that you put me down.” (photo courtesy Kitty Council staffer Dan Nolte)

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“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

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Council staffer Dan Nolte and Mayor’s office press secretary Megan Coppersmith get some “real work” done while draped in cats.

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KOMO-TV comes to all the right assignments.

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The Mayor thanks Animal Shelter volunteers for their daily dedication to the welfare of our shelter animals.

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Mayor Murray and Councilmember Sally Clark get on the cats’ level.

Mayor Murray signs Mount Baker zoning legislation

Mayor Murray issued the following statement after signing the Mount Baker zoning legislation:

“Today I signed the Mount Baker re-zone legislation, a proposal that has been years in the making. However, this is just the beginning. I am determined to continue working with the community and city departments to turn this vision into a reality.

That reality includes housing of all types: low-income, workforce, and market rate. Along with housing, the reality includes improved transportation. I will work with Sound Transit to leverage the light rail investment and will work with the Department of Transportation to address all modes of transportation.

But perhaps most important for this community is an economic development and jobs strategy. The Department of Planning and Development, the Office of Economic Development and the Department of Neighborhoods are spearheading an interdepartmental effort.  My goal is to strengthen existing businesses and the business mix to enable the district to compete successfully in the market. Actions include:

  • Reaching out to local property owners to increase employment opportunities and street-level activation.
  • Working with education institutions, non-profits, and businesses to create new job training opportunities.
  • Encouraging business organizations to seek funding through our Only in Seattle program.
  • Resurrecting and expanding the Southeast Seattle Reinvestment Area (SESRA), the priority permitting program for the Rainier Valley, to facilitate new business startup.

We have a lot of work to do; we look forward to working with many partners.”

View the signed legislation here.

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

In his public safety address to the Seattle City Council last week, Mayor Murray detailed a series of ‘Find it, Fix it’ Community Walks, focused on several crime hotspots.

At the walks, community residents, police, and city officials will walk together to identify physical disorder and solve it, hence the find it and fix it theme. The primary areas of focus are 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 8, 7 – 8:30 p.m., S. Orcas St. and Martin Luther King Jr Way S.
Meet in the vacant RAC parking lot on the southeast corner of the intersection (Map)

7 – 7:15 p.m.

Short program featuring Councilmember Bruce Harrell, Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole and department representatives.

7:15 – 8 p.m.

Walk commences along the following route:

  • East on S. Orcas to 37th Ave S.
  • 37th to S. Juneau St.
  • West on Juneau to Martin Luther King Jr Way S.
  • Stop at the Filipino Community Center (5740 Martin Luther King Jr Way)
  • North on Martin Luther King Jr Way S. to S. Orcas St.
  • West on S. Orcas St to 35th Ave S.
  • North on 35th Ave S to S. Lucille St
  • South on Martin Luther King Jr Way S. to S. Orcas St.

8 – 8:30 p.m.

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

Additional ‘Find it, Fix it’ Community Walks will take place in the upcoming weeks:

  • July 22, 7 – 9 p.m.: Sound Transit tour, between Rainier Beach and Othello Stations
  • July 29, 7 – 9 p.m.: Rainier Ave. and Genesee
  • August 12, 7 – 9 p.m.: Rainier Beach

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