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City View Newsletter

Volume 4, Issue 27 • January 2011
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Looking Forward to 2011

Happy New Year!

This week marks the beginning of my fourth year as a member of the Seattle City Council and I haven’t lost any of my enthusiasm for this job.

In 2011 I will focus on public education, economic growth, justice and public safety, environmental sustainability and government accountability and performance. I will continue as chair of the Council’s Public Safety and Education Committee.

Public Education. The world is changing dramatically. The knowledge-based and science-driven global economy demands employees with higher skills and higher levels of education. By 2018, 67% of all jobs in Washington State will require some post-secondary education. It’s no longer possible for our children to get by with just a high school diploma. Collectively, we must believe that every child in every school in every neighborhood can learn and graduate from high school prepared for college and career. And we must act on this belief.

Over the past nine months, a 24-member citizen planning committee has developed recommendations for renewal of the City’s Families and Education Levy. The committee’s report will be released later this month. It will call for greater focus on struggling schools and students and it will embrace the need for higher standards, a college-ready mindset and even more accountability in how Levy funds are spent.

We have been working closely with Mayor McGinn and his staff to craft a Levy proposal for the Council to consider placing on the November ballot. (Read my blog posts on education.)          

Economic Growth. Jobs! Municipal governments have limited ability to influence job creation, but there are two concrete steps we can take now to protect and enhance job opportunities in Seattle.

First, we can successfully complete major transportation projects that directly impact our regional economic foundation—the deep-bore tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct and related Spokane and Mercer Street corridor projects, plus the SR 520 and South Park bridge replacements. These projects are essential to maintaining and improving the mobility of people and goods throughout the Puget Sound region.

Enhancing our transportation network also means continuing to invest in mass transit. The Council and Mayor are working together to persuade the state legislature to grant additional funding options to local governments for transit services. Major road projects are very important, but they are not sufficient for a comprehensive transportation system.

Second, we should invest more to promote Seattle as an exciting and affordable vacation destination. Our growing nightlife and music scene, our waterways and mountains, our quality hotels and attractions like the Pike Place Market, Seattle Art Museum and Seattle Center have excellent drawing power. But we need to do a better job of coordinating and focusing our marketing efforts. Other West Coast cities spend millions of dollars more than we do every year promoting themselves as high quality, fun vacation destinations.

Justice and Public Safety. I will continue to support policy innovations in criminal justice and speak out in favor of more accountability in our delivery of police services. (I’ve written quite a bit about police accountability on my blog.)

There are questions and concerns about the behavior of some of our officers and also about police management and oversight. I know that our police officers set high standards for themselves. One of the best affirmations of their work is to let the public witness exactly how well these women and men perform their difficult duties. That’s why I strongly favored Chief Diaz’s use of outside law enforcement investigators in some recent cases and also why I would welcome a thorough review of our police department by federal authorities.

Each and every time a police officer encounters a citizen I expect them to treat that individual with dignity, fairness and professionalism. My role as a Councilmember is to keep the performance bar high. Additionally, I must make certain the existing system of checks and balances functions effectively and press for more openness and transparency.

On other public safety matters, my office will soon introduce legislation to tighten our graffiti laws as recommended recently by our City Auditor; address the growing problem of wage theft, an abusive practice that significantly impacts our immigrant and refugee population and people living in poverty; continue to raise public awareness about commercially sexually exploited children; and elevate the discussion surrounding our present system of punishment that has led to mass incarceration unlike anywhere else in the world.

Environmental Sustainability. I will continue to work with Council President Richard Conlin and Councilmember Mike O’Brien on the practical implementation of the Council’s carbon neutrality goal. As vice-chair of the Council’s land use committee, I will push for policies that support increased workforce housing in dense, walkable and transit-friendly neighborhoods around the city. We must give more residents the opportunity to live in communities where they can work, grocery shop and play without needing a car.

Government Accountability and Performance. I've been an elected public official for three years now and I must admit that the level of performance measurement, accountability and outside review is minimal compared to what I experienced in the private sector. I will continue to advocate for city-funded programs that show strong evidence of positive outcomes. Too many programs with proven track records go unfunded for the City to continue providing support for initiatives that don’t show evidence of success.

You can find a quick summary of accomplishments from my first three years here, but there is always more work to do for Seattle. Please continue to engage with me on the issues that matter most to you.

 

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Quick City View

From my personal blog

In the news

On my desk
Michelle Alexander: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
If you read it carefully and with an open mind, this book will cause you to get a knot in your stomach. It did me.

Through the lens
Last month my committee held a productive conversation with the Seattle Police Department's Office of Professional Accountability (OPA), the OPA Civilian Auditor and the OPA Review Board. Watch the discussion.

Contact me
I always appreciate hearing your questions and comments:
(206) 684-8806
PO Box 34025
Seattle, WA 98124-4025
Physical address:
600 Fourth Avenue, Fl. 2
tim.burgess@seattle.gov

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