Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell

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Jul 21 2015

American with Disabilities Act 25th Anniversary Celebration to be Hosted by Councilmember Harrell, Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities

SEATTLE – Councilmember Bruce Harrell and the Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities will host a lunchtime discussion this Thursday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Presenters will share how the ADA has affected their lives, and guests will hear from keynote speaker Maud Steyaert, Director of Disability Services at North Seattle Community College.

Members of the public will have an opportunity to ask questions of the presenters.

The event is open to the public, ADA accessible, and an American Sign Language interpreter will be on-hand.

WHAT:
Lunchtime discussion on 25th Anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act

WHERE:
Seattle City Hall
Council Chambers, Second Floor
600 4th Ave., Seattle 98104

WHEN:
Thursday, July 23
12:00 p.m.

WHO:
Councilmember Bruce Harrell
Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities
Maud Steyaert, Director of Disability Services, North Seattle Community College

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Jul 20 2015

City of Seattle Affirms Privacy as Human Right

SEATTLE (July 20, 2015) – The Seattle City Council voted unanimously this afternoon to adopt Resolution 31598, affirming privacy as a human right and aligning the work of the City’s privacy initiative with the right to privacy as described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“As we continue to make innovative technology investments to improve our services, the City is handling increasing amounts of data,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Seattle is implementing a Digital Privacy Initiative to support public trust in the security and privacy of personal information.”

“The City of Seattle prides itself on being a leader in proactively protecting human rights beyond the status quo,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology. “The passage of this resolution is a monumental step towards extending human rights protections in the digital era we live in.”

In response to privacy concerns, the City of Seattle launched a privacy initiative in fall 2014 to strengthen the City’s privacy practices, establish protocols to educate City departments, and assess risks to the public when collecting data through the course of business. Through this initiative, both internal and external stakeholder groups were convened to review the City’s privacy practices and develop a City-wide privacy policy. Resolution 31570 was passed in February 2015, adopting the City of Seattle Privacy Principles to guide the actions of the City when collecting personal information from the public to provide services.

In December 2012, the Seattle City Council adopted Resolution 31420 proclaiming Seattle to be a Human Rights City, endorsing the human rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, recognizing the importance of using the international human rights framework for cities to work on their commitment to protecting, respecting, and fulfilling the full range of universal human rights.

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Jul 16 2015

Councilmember Harrell to Host Panel on Reducing Student Suspensions, Ending Racial Disparity in School Punishment

SEATTLE – Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee, will host Oakland Unified School District officials at a special Friday meeting to explore Oakland’s 4-pronged approach to reducing student suspensions and their effort to eliminate racial disproportionality in discipline.

Oakland Unified School District has achieved a 47% decrease in suspensions after enacting policies in 2010 relating to restorative justice; positive behavioral interventions, trauma-informed care, and culturally relevant instruction.

The discussion is sponsored by the City of Seattle, King County, the University of Washington School of Social Work Communities in Action, Seattle Public Schools’ African American Male Scholar Think Tank, and the Rainier Beach Action Coalition.

WHAT:
Rethinking School Discipline with the Oakland Unified School District — Discussion with Oakland, CA officials regarding reducing student suspensions, ending racial disparity in school discipline

WHERE:
Seattle City Hall
Bertha Knight Landes Room, First Floor
600 4th Ave., Seattle 98104

WHEN:
Friday, July 17
11:30 a.m.

WHO:
Council President Tim Burgess
Councilmember Bruce Harrell
Councilmember Nick Licata
Seattle School Board Director Betty Patu
Former Assistant State Superintendent Erin Jones
Oakland Unified School District Coordinator of Attendance and Discipline Theresa Clincy
Oakland Unified School District Police Sergeant Antonio Fregoso
Oakland Unified School District Director of Behavioral Health Initiatives Barbara McClung
Oakland Unified School District Manhood Development Instructor and Restorative Justice Coordinator Emilio Ortega

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Jul 09 2015

Councilmember Harrell’s Statement on President Obama’s New Fair Housing Rule

SEATTLE – Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee, issued the following statement regarding President Obama’s new Fair Housing rule announced on Wednesday:

“In light of President Obama’s new rule to strengthen fair housing practices and help end racial segregation in neighborhoods, we should take a deep look at where we are in Seattle relative to housing discrimination and how this impacts all communities. It’s imperative that we embrace this new Federal change, which requires cities to be more proactive in creating inclusive neighborhoods and building affordable housing in higher-income cities. I’m especially hopeful for the future in that this new rule was issued the same year the U.S. Supreme Court rejected (5-4 vote) a change to weaken the Fair Housing Act of 1968, considered one of the most important civil rights laws during the civil rights movement.”

The City has already taken steps to address housing discrimination in Seattle. In December of 2010, Councilmember Harrell and Councilmember Tim Burgess directed Seattle’s Office for Civil Rights (SOCR) to conduct an audit of rental housing practices in Seattle to determine whether landlords were discriminating against potential tenants. The stated goal was to improve enforcement of these critical laws. The 2011 audit focused on African-Americans and people with disabilities and found that 55% of the attempts showed evidence of unlawful discrimination.

In 2013, Councilmember Harrell was the lead sponsor to add another $50,000 in the 2014 budget to continue enforcement of the housing discrimination laws. In 2014, the audit’s scope expanded to discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and those whose country of origin is not the United States. More than half the tests found evidence of discrimination, and SOCR filed illegal-discrimination complaints to 13 properties.

Councilmember Harrell added, “The housing audit results makes it crystal clear that we have much more to do to ensure that everyone in this city has fair and equal access to housing. It’s disgusting that this is still happening in 2015. I’m hopeful that today’s announcement by President Obama will help bring greater attention and focus to this important issue in Seattle. I fully intend to have these audits continue, as they are a critical tool to identify unlawful discriminatory housing practices, file charges where appropriate, share results and findings, and implement community education and outreach strategies.”

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May 04 2015

RELEASE: Council Calls for Action to Support Somali Community in Remittance Crisis

SEATTLE – Council unanimously approved legislation today, which calls on several City departments to investigate options that would allow Seattle residents to continue servicing remittances to Somalia. Due to federal government action in February, the Merchants Bank of California closed the accounts of all Somali-American Money Transfer Operators due to issues surrounding federal money laundering and terrorism financing regulations. Thousands of Somalis in Seattle are now unable to send money back to their families to help with basic needs such as food, water, shelter, and education.

“We want to do everything we can to help our Somali community and make all resources available in our advocacy strategy to implement changes at the federal level,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology committee. “This is a complex problem, but we must find a way for families both here and there to safely and securely exchange money.”

“This is a humanitarian issue affecting hard working Somali families in Seattle,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We will explore all options to assist the Somali community as they try to help their loved ones in Somalia. I’m hopeful we can work with federal officials and local financial institutions to find the right solution.”

“Finding ways to safely and securely send money back to family in Somalia is incredibly important to our Somali residents here in Seattle, and the City must explore every angle to help facilitate those transactions,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien. “We have got to find a solution or countless people in Somalia will continue to suffer as this critical aid to their economy is shut off.”

Resolution 31578 reaffirms the City of Seattle’s support of Somali communities to continue sending remittances to Somalia and the Horn of Africa. It also specifically calls on the City of Seattle to help facilitate a stronger relationship between our Somali residents and local lending institutions and credit unions in order achieve access to capital and credit.

Seattle has one of the biggest Somali communities in the United States, many of whom were refugees. Each year, Somalia receives approximately $1.3 billion in remittances from the United States and more than 730,000 people in Somalia are dependent on this financial assistance lifeline.

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Apr 28 2015

ADVISORY: Councilmember Harrell to host meeting on Juvenile Domestic Violence, Solutions to Somali Remittance Crisis

SEATTLE – Councilmember Bruce Harrell will host a special Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee meeting Wednesday regarding both juvenile domestic violence in Seattle and solutions to the Somali remittance crisis.

Representatives of the United States Department of Justice and the Seattle City Auditor’s office will present their findings relating to juvenile domestic violence in Seattle. Few interventions and prevention services currently exist in Seattle to address this issue. Juvenile domestic violence accounted for 32% of new offenses booked to King County juvenile detention in 2013. 87% of the cases involved youth violence toward a family member, often the mother. The committee will explore the depth of the problem and potential solutions.

The Committee also intends to vote on a resolution that seeks to address the Somali remittance crisis. Seattle has one of the largest Somali populations in the country. In February, the Merchants Bank of California closed down all accounts of Somali-American money transfer operators due to the increasing difficulty of complying with federal money laundering and terrorism financing regulations. More than 73,000 people in Somalia are dependent on financial assistance overseas, and the effect of the account closures has been exacerbated due to Somalia’s lack of a functioning commercial banking system.

WHAT: Juvenile Domestic Violence Briefing and discussion of potential Somali remittance solutions at the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee

WHEN: Wednesday, April 29, 2:00 p.m.

WHERE: Council Chambers, 2nd floor
Seattle City Hall, 600 Fourth Avenue, Seattle 98104

WHO: Councilmembers
Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs
Mayor’s Office
Office of the City Auditor
U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Diagnostic Center
King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
Law Department
Seattle Police Department

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