City View Newsletter
Just two quick items in today's E-Newsletter. But, first, let me say that I'm nearing the end of my first year in office and I'm as pumped up and enthused as I was last January. I am very grateful that the voters of Seattle gave me this opportunity to serve our city.
2009 City Budget Adopted
The Council voted this afternoon to adopt the 2009 City budget. This file provides a summary of the various changes the Council made to the Mayor's proposed budget.
Most significantly, the Council added funding for homeless services, domestic violence and sexual assault prevention, emergency food and nutrition services,library collections (e.g., books, tapes, videos, etc.), and youth violence prevention programs.
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Stopping Youth Violence
Last January and February I spoke out about youth violence and gangs in our city. Several of my colleagues on the Council have done the same. Since then, I've written extensively on this topic on my blog (www.timburgess.com). Unfortunately, this situation is spiraling downward. There was extensive gun violence in the metro area this past weekend.
The 2009budget the Council passed today includes revisions to the Mayor's Youth Violence Initiative - adding police officers to select public schools, encouraging more police intervention efforts against gangs, increasing illegal gun interdiction efforts, and adding case management services for frequent offenders. The budget also continues funding for additional police officers, part of a multi-year effort to increase the size of the police force.
Here are some immediate steps that can save lives and reduce violence in our city.
Guns are readily available to juveniles, and they are using them to kill! This problem of illegal guns must be addressed. It is a regional problem that demands a regional and state solution. More assertive law enforcement is needed that targets gun dealers who sell illegally to persons not qualified to possess firearms, including juveniles, and legal buyers who transfer or illegally sell their weapons.
Increased police focus on known gang-involved offenders is necessary to stop the killings. Focused police attention and enforcement actions work extremely well - witness the huge drop in auto thefts in Seattle when officers targeted the top 20 auto thieves. Similar strategies should be employed against individuals involved in violent gang activities. Appropriate and entirely legal police action must be taken against the relatively few persons who are abetting and committing violence among our children. Our police officers need to focus their efforts on the most active and violent multiple offenders. The police know who most of these individuals are. And when the police act, it is imperative that City officials, from the Mayor to Council members, back them up.
Returning police officers to select middle schools and high schools is another proven and effective tactic to encourage the sharing of information and to steer kids away from gang involvement. Seattle assigned police officers to our schools for many years, but withdrew them several years ago due to budget constraints. Let's quickly get them back in our schools. The Seattle Public School District should help pay for these officers,which is the norm around the country.
Gun violence is both a public safety and a public health problem and we should treat it as such. Other cities have successfully addressed gun violence by adopting public health strategies to raise awareness, provide alternatives, and change the public's perception. While we take immediate law enforcement steps, let us also adopt a long-term public health orientation to this issue.
The Council and the Mayor are united in a desire to protect our children, stop the violence, and stem the influence of gangs. But this problem is deeply rooted in the community. It has many causes, and it won't be solved over night. Every citizen in every corner of Seattle is affected when one of our children is killed by gun violence. Let's work together to make it stop!
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